Remembering the First Easter Mass in the Philippines

Five hundred years ago, the thirty first of March was Easter Sunday. On that Easter Sunday, the first Mass was celebrated in Limasawa even before the archipelago was named Philippines. The mass was presided by Fr. Pedro Valderrama, chaplain of the Magellan voyage.


Magellan had named the Philippine islands the “Archipelago of St. Lazarus.” On the day he first sighted land (March 16, 1521), it was a Saturday, the eve of Passion Sunday, when in the old Roman liturgy, the gospel was the resurrection of St. Lazarus.


In a resolution dated September 25, 2020, CBCP accepted the results of the National Historical Commission recognizing Limasawa, located in today’s Southern Leyte, as the site of the said event.

A painting of the ‘First Easter Mass at Limasawa’ (1965) by National Artist Carlos “Botong” Francisco, on display at the National Museum of Fine Arts