Friday, December 9, 2011

Santo Nino Basilica - Origin of Filipino Faith in the Old City

I like the way historian Gregorio Zaide described the Filipinos in a nutshell. He said, it is not unusual for Filipinos to look Oriental, be Catholic, have a Spanish last name, an American nickname, and speak American English. It's even more interesting to revisit our past, something that I have never done in the pages of this blog with regards to places from my country. Not thoroughly, at least.

In 1521, when Magellan and his crew of 150 soldiers "discovered" the Philippines, they brought with them the face of Christianity and Europe. But in the course of such aggressive political and religious propaganda, Magellan perished. But Catholicism lived on. The tribes who used to worship pagan Gods and "Bathala" has since embraced Christianity with a vengeance.

Forty four (44) years since Magellan's arrival into the islands of Cebu, more Spaniard explorers came. In 1565, they found a preserved statue of the Holy Child Jesus - Santo Nino - inside a burned wooden box. This was part of Magellan's fleet, preserved and untouched for almost half a century, and thus has rendered the statue a veneer of might and mystical power. After all, it survived fire and the ravages of 44 years. From this exact spot rose the Santo Nino Basilica - Basilica Minore del Santo Nino.

That same year Santo Nino was found, religious circumnavigator Fr. Andres de Urdaneta, an Augustinian priest, founded the Basilica. It took them a year to make one made out of the earth, hard wood and nipa under the friarship of Fr. Diego de Herrera. Urdaneta has since moved on to finish the "second" expedition that would traverse the whole globe (after Magellan's expedition). Since then, the Basilica underwent several renovations: in 1735, they reconstructed it out of hard stone; it took 4 years to finish.

The main attraction within this Basilica is enthroned at a smaller chapel at the right side of the main altar - it houses the "miraculous" Santo Nino found by the Spaniards in 1565. The devotees could take a closer look at the statue by taking the right wing of the church where you join a queue of other devotees just waiting to touch the case that houses the Santo Nino. No, you can't touch it directly, but this detail hasn't stopped hundreds of faithful worshippers queuing day after day. Miracles and intentions are borne out of such devotion.

Though I did try to venture into the separate hallway leading towards the Holy Child, I didn't have the fortitude to brave the queue. But these hallways provide an interesting glimpse of the past. It is a museum of religious history housing religious artifacts and statues of saints that date back from time long forgotten.

This is the Eye in the Sky!

At the court yard garden.

The daily queue to the Holy Child is daunting, but I was able to chance upon it in 2014. A pious atmosphere envelopes, and you're not supposed to monopolize this site nor take too much time praying in front of it because there are others waiting in line.

Small chapel encasing the statue of the Santo Nino.

Walk these hallways (above and below) to get beside the "altar" where one could touch the glass that encases the Holy Child's statue that dates back to 1518.

A green space found between the hallways.

Statues of saints abound inside the basilica.

Schedule of masses at the Basilica del Santo Nino which offers these services in two languages: the local dialect called Cebuano and English. Schedule of Confessions also listed here.

The way out...

Up next: Images from around the Basilica grounds -


Trotter said...

Hi Eye! Happy to be here after my accident ;)

Such a beautiful post!! But don't forget that Magellan was Portuguese, not Spaniard... (though he was working for the king of Spain... ;)

Blogtrotter Two is around Scandola. Fabulous! Enjoy and have a great weekend!

eye in the sky said...

My goodness. I thought it was some "minor accident", Gil. I hope you're alright - and recuperating. Get well soon!

Yes, I know Magellan's Portuguese. He had a falling out with some king thus his new allegiance to the Spanish king for his expedition. This explains why his fleet was mainly Spaniards. :)

Ramakrishnan said...

Wonderful & informative post.Amazing & mystical Santo Nino which laid the foundation for Christianity in Phillipines !Thanks for sharing.

eye in the sky said...

Thanks, R. History is filled with so many stories. :)