MANILA, Philippines — Today, in the Philippines, it is the feast of the Santo Niño, the Holy Child Jesus.
The figure was to be enthroned before the Mass at Rizal Park. And Catholics from the Archdiocese of Cebu were to lead the people in accompanying the procession with the Sinulog rhythm and dance.
The Missal prepared for the pope’s visit by the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of the Philippines explained:
“The devotion to the Sto. Niño (Holy Child) is the oldest and the one of the most popular in the Philippines. When Miguel Lopez Legazpi landed on the island of Cebu in 1565, one of his soldiers found an image of the Child Jesus. It is believed to be the same statue Magellan had given to the wife of the chieftain of the island after her baptism.
“The image is venerated today in the Basilica in Cebu. For Filipino Catholics the Holy Child represents a God who is accessible to all and can be approached without fear. The devotion instills the virtues of simplicity, obedience, and trust in God. At the same time it calls for mature discipleship and loving service at all.”