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Feast of Sto Niño during the Pandemic

Filipinos will celebrate again the feast of Santo Nino (Child Jesus) on Jan 17 but this time due to pandemic it will be without the colorful parades, fluvial processions, street dancing and other festive rites in different parts of the Philippines. In the central Philippine city of Cebu, they cancelled the traditional “Sinulog” in honor of Señor Santo Niño, the oldest festival in the country. Also in central Philippines, the crowds usually gather for the “Ati-Atihan” in Aklan province, “Biniray” in Romblon, “Binirayan” and “Handugan” in Antique, and “Dinagyang” in Iloilo. In Southern Philippines it’s the “Pachada Senor” in Cagayan de Oro City, “Kahimunan” in Butuan City and “Zambulawan”

Here in Naga, the Immaculate Conception Parish will cancel the usual procession but will have a mass and mobile procession.

Theological Basis for the Devotion to the Santo Niño

The depiction of Christ the Child as king and military ruler is medieval in origin.

The Santo Niño de Cebu is believed to have come from Flanders, the same image Magellan gave to Queen Juana of Cebu in 1521.

The image is dressed in crimson, the color of royalty, of the Roman legion and of martyrdom.

The image is crowned like a king, carries an orb and scepter or baston de mando (symbols of authority).

The image wears metal boots like a soldier.

The Santo Niño of Cebu is not be confused with the Infant of Praque. This Eastern European depiction of the Christ Child came later than the Santo Niño devotion.

In the Praque image the Christ Child has the vesture of royalty but none of the military.

The Santo Nino Devotion of the Filipinos can be easily noticed not only by their participation in all the activities in connection with this devotion, but also and especially by having an Image of the Holy Child in practically every Filipino catholic home and/or in their cars.

And the Image varies in sizes - from several centimeters to several inches tall. When you see one in a car you can be sure he or she is a Filipino or of Filipino ancestry. Rosary beads are also favorite car decors usually hanging by the rear view mirror.

A “DEVOTION” is not a devotion unless it takes root into the very life of the devotee. Meaning, it is not a one-shot affair, a one-event activity, a novena done then gone, a Feast celebration then ended.

The Holy Child devotion is learning the life of Jesus from childhood, witnessing to it by our daily lives and living a life worthy of a Christian, THE WAY WE THINK, we talk, we act.

So, with the Holy Image of the Infant Child, it should not be treated as a “lucky charm” that might have some “magical powers.” We need real devotees, not fanatics.

The real Jesus is in the Sacraments, especially the Holy Eucharist. Yes, we need symbols like Images, but they are only symbols. Let us seek for the object symbolized, JESUS CHRIST!!!

The devotional practices we do are intended to bring us closer to the object of our devotion.

If it is the Holy Child, then it should bring us to the Holy Child, through his holy image, not only to the holy image. We love the picture, but we love more the person represented in the picture. The substance, not the accidents, the end, not just the means.

The celebration of the Liturgy does not exhaust the Church’s divine worship. Following the example and the teaching of the Lord, the disciples of Christ also pray according to structures which have emerged practically spontaneously from the collective Christian consciousness, in which the demands of popular culture harmoniously convey the essential data of the Gospel message.

Credit: UCANNews / Everything Cebu


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