Cebu prelate leads countdown to 500th year of PH Christianity

Cebu Archbishop Jose Palma on Monday led church and government officials in launching the 100-day countdown to the 500th year of Christianity in the Philippines.

In a simple ceremony at Plaza Sugbo in front of the historical kiosk of the cross of Spanish navigator Ferdinand Magellan and the Cebu City Hall legislative building, Palma said commemorating the quincentennial of the Filipino faith should go on despite the pandemic.

“There is Covid-19, yes, but Covid does not paralyze us because we look into our hearts and we see the value of collaboration,” he said.

Palma said “it’s important to look back 500 years ago because it is God’s time and it is filled with God’s blessings” to remember the first mass in the country and the first baptism of Cebu’s ruler Rajah Humabon, his wife Humamay and their subjects.

The quincentennial celebration of Christian faith will focus on the first baptism in the Philippines which happened in Cebu on April 14, 1521. The first mass occurred in the island of Limasawa in Leyte on Easter Sunday, March 31, 1521.

“And so today I’m so happy to be part of this historic event with dances and songs and few reminders, we will look forward to becoming part of the journey in looking backwards and thanksgiving in looking forward and (to) hope,” Palma said.

The 70-year-old chief prelate cited the strong faith of the Cebuanos to the Sto. Niño which will become the center of the celebration.

The miraculous image of the Sto. Niño was a gift of the friars to Humamay and Humabon after their baptismal rite. The sacred image is the oldest surviving Catholic relic in the country, along with the Magellan’s cross.

Vice Mayor Michael Rama who represented the city government in unveiling the countdown monitor said while the Augustinian friars agreed to forego the annual Fiesta Señor procession this year amid the coronavirus disease 2019 (Covid-19) threat, activities leading to the quincentennial of faith should push through.

Rama said the Cebuanos should use the celebration in praying God’s mercy in beating Covid-19.

The countdown monitor is mounted in front of the Magellan’s Cross kiosk. The cross is one of Cebu’s tourist attractions.

Augustinian friars who are overseeing the Basilica Minore del Sto. Niño and Magellan’s Cross joined other clerics and city officials in the program.

Activities leading to the commemoration of the 500th year of Christian faith are designed to be done virtually through the internet

Source: Philippines News agency

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