Last Thursday I visited three more locations in Cebu City, the first of which was the Basilica del Santo Nino Parish Church. Magellan’s Cross is next to Basilica del Santo Nino so I made a short visit there too. Jessie pointed out the steeple of another nearby church and of course I wanted to go there too. It is a modern church known as the Cebu City Metropolitan Cathedral. I did also visit those lcoations.
Basilica del Santo Nino Significant In Cebuano History
The first church built on the site was named Santo Nino de Cebu in 1565. In 1735, the stone church was built in the same place as the original church. In 1965 the church was elevated to the rank of “Basilica,” The church is said to be built on the location where the Santo Nino was found in a charred box in 1656 by Spaniards.
As many know, I’ve been living in Cebu for nearly four years. I’ve made several visit to Basilica del Santo Nino and Magellan’s Cross several times. However, with a DSLR in hand I had to visit again and I don’t think Jessie’s high school friend from Tacloban has ever been there. It was Sheila’s first trip to Basilica del Santo Nino.
I have never waded through the line to see the famous Santo Nino Chapel in the Basilica del Santo Nino. It is one of the holiest places in Cebu if not the Philippines. It was a present to the Rajah Humabon after Magellan convinced him and his queen to pledge their allegiance to Spain and were baptized.
Soon though, things broke down and a battle between the Portuguese broke out at the Battle of Mactan. The Santo Nino was found in the burning debris after the battle. Legend has it that it was the only item left un-burned. I have read the Battle of Mactan started from a fight over the women of Cebu. After seeing the women of Cebu, I can see why that might happen. 🙂 I don’t know if that is accurate but I like that version so I choose to believe it.
Less known is that after the Portuguese were defeated and driven out of Cebu, the locals tried to destroy the Santo Nino. Why they could not, I don’t know. This Santo Nino became a pagan idol for sometime. It was likely after the Spaniards came that Cebuanos once again became Christian.
For many years Cebuanos consider the Santo Nino as the patron saint of Cebu but it was never official. I don’t think Christ can be a patron saint. In the 80’s Cardinal Vidal of Cebu made the Holy Mother the patron saint of Cebu. It is said that many miracles have been performed by the Santo Nino in Basilica del Santo Nino in Cebu City. So many that they would not all fit into a single book.
The Holy Child At Basilica del Santo Nino
There is usually a line of people waiting to visit with the Santo Nino in Cebu City. The line was not too long this time so I got in it as well. It probably took 30 minutes or less for my turn before the Holy Child.
Jessie held our place in line while I went off to take pictures. I spent some time in the garden and the church itself.
Before our turn came, I observed many Filipinos would touch the glass that encloses the Santo Nino and say a prayer. Jessie did the same once we were at the Santo Nino.
After our visit with Santo Nino, Jessie noticed that Sheila had disappeared. She got in the line to see the Santo Nino before us. I spotted a hallway I have not explored before and headed that way.
I noticed a room named “Adoration Chapel” and decided to enter. There we found Sheila on her knees in prayer. This is a very quite room. Where I held back even a cough. I was conscious of the noise of the shutter on my camera but I took a couple of shots anyway. One of which is pictured to the left below.
I don’t fully know the significance of this room as I’m not Catholic. But in the center of the room there is some wheat in a shrine. This has to do with Holy Communion to represent bread which as most Christians believe to represent the flesh of Christ in the ritual of Holy Communion. A ritual not fully understood by Christians but is very special in the faith. I have myself been quite moved at times when I participated in Holy Communion which is a ritual also observed by most protestant churches. As a hint, this room is air conditioned and can be found behind the hallway of the court of Basilica del Santo Nino.
There is a lot of nice art and symbols of Christianity around the Basilica del Santo Nino in Cebu City. There is a picture of a lion that intrigues me. It appears to be drawn in the pagan tradition. As I understand it, ancient Filipinos worshiped animals. However, I don’t think there has ever been a wild lion in the Philippines. So this is a Christian symbol but displayed like an animal of pagan worship would have been. If that was intentional, I don’t know.
I still have not visited the museum at the Basilica del Santo Nino. So I will be making at least one more return to this church in Cebu City. I always enjoy going though. Anyone interested in photography could spend hours there. I should have used my long lens to bring some of the distant objects in closer. So that’s another reason for me to return there. The church is within walking distance of Cebuview Tourist Inn were I often stay when in Cebu City.
There are a lot of things to see around the Basilica del Santo Nino. Two of which I will feature in upcoming articles. There are also a lot of vendors in the area. If you go during Holy Week there will be many more people and vendors. They sell religious symbols, candles, flowers, fruits and vegetables. Jessie and Sheila were headed into the gift shop and I said, “I spent way too much money the last time I was in there” and headed away from it. We do need our own Santo Nino shrine in our home. This is something most Filipino have in their home and Jessie boys should grow up with one as well. That never occurred to me before. I have been planning on getting one since my first visit to Basilica del Santo Nino which was the first time I learned of the term.
For a list of other things to see in Cebu follow this link. I have been to most of those places but not all of them.
Even if you’re not a religious person, I consider it essential to visit this church in Cebu City as one can gain some insight into Filipino culture. If you visit the Basilica del Santo Nino you will see first hand just how important the church is for many Filipinos.
Filed under: Living in Cebu
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