Most Rev. Jose S. Palma, D.D., Archbishop of Cebu, led the enshrinement of the image in the presence of the Parish Priest of Saint Anne Church, Fr. Mario Millardi, OSA and other Augustinian friars of the Italian and Cebu Province. Bishop Palma dropped by Rome and before the enshrinement; he met Pope Francis during his General Audience at the Paul VI Hall, Citta di Vaticana. Bishop Palma is set to attend the 52nd International Eucharistic Congress (IEC) slated from September 5 to 12, 2021 in Budapest, Hungary.
Rev. Fr. Aladdin Luzon, OSA, who was reporting for his new assignment as the Permanent Representative of the Augustinians to the United Nations, brought the image from the Basilica to Rome together with the endorsement letter signed by the Prior Provincial of the Province of Sto. Niño de Cebu, Rev. Fr. Andres Rivera, Jr., OSA, and the rector of the Basilica, Rev. Fr. Nelson Zerda, OSA. As stated in the endorsement letter, the image will serve as the official image in the European Pilgrimage of the Santo Niño de Cebu.
The event marked history since the Sto. Niño de Cebu image was enshrined in the only parish in the State of Vatican which is beside the St. Peter’s Basilica – the seat of the Bishop of Rome, Pope Francis. The Augustinians of the Italian Province are the administrators of the parish since 1929.
One occasion, the late Pope John Paul II visited Saint Anne Parish and said with humor that he was ‘visiting his parish priest.’ Pope Francis has also visited the parish during his first few days as the Pope after his proclamation.
Meanwhile, this is not the first time that an image of Sto. Niño was brought to Italy. In 2003, Rev. Fr. Dominador Besares, OSA enthroned an image at the chapel of the Augustinian Contemplative Monastery in Milan. Up to the present, a fiesta celebration in honor of the Holy Child is held every January which is participated by the devotees and the Filipino community. /BMSN Media Centre