Santo Niño Chapel

In 1975, Fr. Rector, Restituto Suarez, OSA, spearheaded the construction of the marble side chapel for the public veneration of the Santo Niño even during celebrations inside the basilica as devotees kept multiplying. This was constructed ten years after the 4th centenary celebration of the Christianization of the Philippines and the elevation of the San Agustin Church into a Basilica Minore del Sto. Niño de Cebu in 1965. The third Basilica to be declared after Basilica of the Immaculate Conception, Batangas City (1948) and Basilica of St Martin of Tours, Taal (1948). These two churches were also built and founded by the Augustinian missionaries.

Before the transfer of the original image of the Santo Niño to the newly constructed Chapel, the image was displayed at the middle niche of the main retablo of the Church. Those who wish to venerate and touch the image had to access the 2nd floor of the Convento del Santo Niño of the friars through a spiral stair case. The prior keeps the image in his room at night together with the key of the niche and only takes it out for veneration hours set by the Augustinian friars.

It is almost five centuries old, but the original image of the Child Jesus is still being displayed inside a bullet-proof glass box at the Basilica Minore del Santo Niño de Cebu. The original image of the Santo Niño, which was brought to Cebu by conquistador Ferdinand Magellan in 1521, has been open for viewing by pilgrims and visitors. The devotees are allowed to view the original image of the Holy Child but this is closely guarded and could no longer be brought outside for the Fiesta Señor activities. The age and vulnerability of the pine wood used to carve the image has prevented the Augustinian community in Cebu from using it for special occasions. The last time the original image was used in an outside activity was in 1993. Officials of the Augustinian community in Cebu stopped the practice after the icon fell from the carroza during one of the solemn processions. It was broken and had to be restored. Reyes said the Basilica had to create six replicas, including the “replica mayor,” which was used in every solemn processions.

Some texts from: Sunstar Cebu


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