by Maria Eleanor E. Valeros, #newmedia specialist
CEBU CITY, PHILIPPINES — Four centuries and a half after the finding of a scorched image of the Holy Child in a pine chest, Cebu continues to be the icon’s home – revered to the point that devotees deem it “essential to widen the extent of the celebration through a national declaration of 2015 as the Year of the Santo Nino,” echoing a “450Kaplag” statement of the Order of Saint Augustine.
April marks the 450th anniversary of the finding of the image of the Santo Nino (1565) and of the presence of the Augustinians in the Philippines. It is also the 50th year of the Santo Nino Church as a basilica minore (1965).
Fr. Arnel Antonio S. Dizon, in an official statement released to netizen media, shared that the “450th anniversary of the discovery of the Santo Nino image, with the formal evangelization and Christianization of the Philippines, marks a historic milestone in Philippine Christianity.”
Fr. Dizon said that the Basilica and the devotion to the Santo Nino are “undoubtedly two significant contributions and legacy to the Philippine Catholic Church that flourished from the pioneering efforts of the earliest Augustinians to their successors.”
Moreover, he said, the foundation of towns and provinces, parishes and churches, schools and other institutions is a living testament of their civic, cultural, educational and religious commitment.
The planned activities like the Kaplag International Conference on the history of the devotion, presence of Augustinians in the Philippines, and the Basilica; unveiling of commemorative stamp, launching of a commemorative book; a painting exhibit by Rev. Fr. Dominador Besares, fluvial procession and grand reenactment of the arrival and finding of the image and development of its devotion here, among others, are meant to pay homage to the memories of the past, celebrate the continuous engagement, and embolden the forthcoming endeavors of the Augustinians in the Philippines and beyond.
Fr. Dizon further mentioned that the 450th commemorative celebration aims to animate the commitment to “re-evangelize” through the authentic witnessing of the shared faith.
This objective is anchored on a pastoral letter of the Catholic Bishops Conference of the Philippines on the Era of New Evangelization calling on the faithful to “live Christ, share Christ.”
“A vibrant Church like the Philippines aspires to be more active in the universal mission by reaching out and re-evangelizing the world, especially Asia,” Dizon’s statement added.
“On the national scene,” it was further learned, “that the lineup of events highlights the historical, cultural, societal and religious significance – all rolled into our common heritage as a proud nation indebted to its beginnings. It is likewise an opportunity to inform the young generation for them to appreciate our colorful historical past and to deepen and concretize our sense of identity.”
Activities run from April 18 to 28, 2015 with www.450kaplag.com for official website.###