Thursday, October 21, 2010

37. THE STO. NIÑO DEVOTION IN THE PHILIPPINES

The devotion of Filipinos to the Santo Niño (Holy Child Jesus) is deeply rooted in the history of the country when Ferdinand Magellan and his crew first set foot on the island of Cebu. Using the sword and the cross to win over the people, the Spaniards gifted Hara Amihan, the queen of Cebu and wife of Rajah Humabon, a statue of the Holy Child upon her baptism. Known today as the Sto. Niño of Cebu, this is the first and most popular image of the Christ Child around which popular devotion and ritual celebration revolve every January.

It also started a tradition of unbridled celebrations throughout the country that has remained strong through centuries, a feast approved by the Holy See. Sto. Niño statues have found their way in every island in the country, each one an object of veneration and folk piety expressed through festivals like Cebu's Sinulog, Iloilo’s Dinagyang, Aklan's Ati-atihan, Tondo’s Buling-Buling and the festivals of Tacloban, Pakil, Malabon, Ternate, Malolos, Hagonoy, Davao and even in faraway Sabtang Island of Batanes.

In 1979, fashion designer Benjamin Farrales founded the Congregacion del Santisimo Nombre del Niño Jesus, a company of Sto. Niño devotees that holds the famous Sto. Niño procession every 3rd week of January, participated in by hundreds of Holy Child images from all over the country, borne on carrozas of inconceivable beauty and variety. These are just a few scenes from their previous processions.












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