Tuesday, March 28, 2017

Basilica Del Santo Nino in Cebu City

For those who are spiritual by heart and mind, Basilica Minore Del Santo Nino or Santo Nino Basilica is a must visit tourist spot for you here in the Queen city of the south, Cebu city Philippines.

The church of the Holy Child was founded in the 1565 by Frays Andrés de Urdaneta, O.S.A. and Diego de Herrera, O.S.A.. This is said to be the oldest Roman Catholic church in the Philippines.The icon, Santo Nino which is a statue of a child Jesus Christ, is identical to the one presented by Ferdinand Magellan to King Rajah Humabon and Queen Juana upon the Royal couple’s christening on April 14, 1521. A soldier found it forty years later, preserved in a wooden box, after Legazpi had devastated a local village. Back in 1565, Pope Paul VI made the church a Basilica wherein he said that the Basilica is the symbol of the birth and growth of Christianity in the Philippines.

This Basilica del Santo Nino was built on the spot where the image of Santo Nino de Cebu was introduced during the Miguel Lopez de Legazpi expedition. April 28, 1565 was the day when Fray Andrés de Urdaneta, O.S.A. in a partially burned hut, founded the image. A week passed, after the rediscovery of the image of Santo Nino on May 8, 1565, Miguel Lopez de Legazpi introduced the founding of the first Spanish settlement in the Philippines. On the spot of the house where the image of the Santo Niño was found, the monastery of the Holy Name of Jesus was constructed. The image was therefore brought to its new shrine in a solemn procession. The first Santo Nino church was built on the site where the image of the Holy Child was found burned down in November 1, 1566. Father Diego De Herrera built the church using wood and nipa. Fray Pedro Torres, O.S.A. started the construction of a new church in 1605. It was finished in 1626 but burned again on March 1626. Fray Juan Medina started the construction of another church in 1628 using stones and bricks, which was a great innovation at that time. The construction stopped because the structure was found to be imperfect. Father Provincial Bergaño, Governor-General Fernando Valdes, Bishop Manuel Antonio Decio y Ocampo of Cebu and Fray Juan de Albarran, O.S.A. started the foundations of the present church using stonenn February 29, 1735. 

Since the friars did not have the means to complete the church, they asked the help of the parishioners of Opon and San Nicolas to contribute some materials, while the people of Talisay contributed labor. Fray Albarranacquired some knowledge of architecture designs to fill the lack of chief artisans and officers. The church was finished not later than 1739.The miraculous image was enthroned on January 16, 1740 in the new Augustinian church.In 1789, the church underwent a renovation and on 1889, Fray Mateo Diez, O.S.A. did another renovation. The original attribute of the church has been retained except for the windows, which he added. Both the church and convent underwent a bigger restoration in the 1960’s on the Fourth Centennial of the Christianization of the country. The face lifting was made with utmost respect for the historical character of the old structure.

This sacred and historical Basilica Minore del Santo Nino is the top most visited places both tourists and locals because of its structure, architectural design and the holiness of the place. It is located at Osmena Boulevard Cebu City. It is in front of the Cebu City hall building and is nearby the Magellan’s cross. Visiting Cebu, tourists should never miss Basilica Minore del Santo Nino, to know the culture of the Cebuanos and their devotion to the Holy Child. Philippine President Ferdinand E. Marcos also declared it a National Landmark in 1941.The Basilica del Sto. Niño remains under the care of the Augustinian Friars. Santo Nino has an architectural style that is a composite of Romanesque, neo-classicism and Muslim. The forepart of the church is still in its original stone texture and natural color, which imparts a simple classiness. The bell tower serves as equipoise to the convent situated at the opposite far end. The rounded dome of the bell tower is of Muslim influence. There is a small museum inside the Basilica, which is a beautiful thing to recognize as it seems to record the history of Christianity in Cebu. It shows various antique objects, century-old furniture, priestly garments and the Santo Niño’s old cloaks contributed by individuals over the centuries. Some devotees of the Santo Nino, the holy child also contributed religious articles like statues, relics and other items of their daily lives.

You can ride a Jeepney with a regular fare of Php 7. You can also ride taxicabs with a flag down rate of Php 40 and Php 3.50 for every succeeding 500 meters or waiting time per 90 seconds. For van rentals, JLC Trading is highly recommended. The drivers of JLC trading are friendly and knowledgeable about the place. 

Everybody is welcome to visit Basilica Minore del Santo Nino. Just wear your most comfortable yet decent attire to visit the Basilica. Do not forget to lit some candles, pray and have a glance at Santo Nino, the holy child. It is open from Monday to Sunday and tourists or locals can attend a holy mass. Holy mass starts at 6:00 am to 6:30 pm from Monday to Thursday. Friday schedule is from 5:00 am to 8:30 pm, Saturday schedule is from 6:00 am to 6:30 pm and Sunday schedule is from 5:30 am to 8:00 pm. 

When hungry, there are nearby fast foods and even cheap local restaurants. There are also street food vendors nearby if you want to indulge and try local Cebuano street food. One of the best time to visit the Basilica is during the Sinulog Festival celebrated every third Sunday of January. Thousands of locals and tourists or Foreigners will visit the Basilica to attend 9 days of Novena mass and for the grandest and most talk about feast. 


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