Sto. Niño De Cebu visits Negros Oriental for Kaplag pilgrimage

By Roi Anthoni B. Lomotan

(L-R) Fr. Jonas Mijares, rector of the Basilica Minore of Sto. Niño De Cebu and Dumaguete Bishop Julito Cortes in a press conference last April 6, 2015 at Marian Priests Center, Dumaguete City. (PIA7-NegOr)
(L-R) Fr. Jonas Mijares, rector of the Basilica Minore of Sto. Niño De Cebu and Dumaguete Bishop Julito Cortes in a press conference last April 6, 2015 at Marian Priests Center, Dumaguete City. (PIA7-NegOr)

DUMAGUETE CITY (PIA) – The pilgrim image of the Señor Santo Niño or the infant Jesus is visiting pastoral districts under the Diocese of Dumaguete from April 6 to 10 for the Kaplag pilgrimage.

This visit is attributed to the three celebrations of Christian faith in the Philippines: the 450th anniversary of “Kaplag” or the finding of the holy image of Sto. Niño, 450th anniversary of the presence of the Augustinians in the Philippines and 50th year anniversary of the declaration of the Santo Niño Church in Cebu as basilica minore.

“The purpose of this pilgrim visit is to rekindle once again the intensity of our devotion to the Holy Child and to remind us of the faith that we have,” Fr. Vince Liwag said in a press conference with church officials Monday night at the Marian Priests Center.

Fr. Liwag is in charge of activities for the 450th Kaplag pilgrimage.

The pilgrim image of the Sto. Niño De Cebu arrived in Dumaguete City on April 6.

It was enthroned at the Cathedral of St. Catherine of Alexandria, the seat of the diocese.

A mass was held at the evening as a sign of welcome to the pilgrim image.

The image will stay at the cathedral until April 7 in the afternoon then it will be taken to a church in Bais City in the north district of the diocese.

A mass will also be celebrated in honor of the Sto. Niño.

On April 8, the pilgrim image of the infant Jesus will travel to Siaton in the southern district while on April 9 in the morning, the image will go to Siquijor province and will stay at the St. Francis parish in Siquijor town.

On April 10, the image will be brought back to Cebu via Dumaguete.

Church officials invite the public to join these activities and pray to the Señor Sto. Niño.

“It is an opportunity for us to encounter Jesus in the image of the Sto. Niño for our faith to be once again re-awakened and for us remember that Christian life is a life to live in all aspects of our human person,” Liwag added.

The word ‘Kaplag’ refers to the discovery of the image of Sto. Niño in a native hut by the Augustinian priests who accompanied Miguel Lopez De Legazpi and Fr. Andres De Urdaneta in their expedition to the Philippines.

Historical data says the image of the Sto. Niño was given to Queen Juana after she and her husband Rajah Humabon of Cebu along with their subjects agreed to be baptized under the Christian faith at the time of Magellan’s expedition to the Philippines.

But Chrisitianity did not grow in Cebu during Magellan’s time because of the death of the conqueror.

It only flourished during the time of Legazpi through the Augustinian friars who once again commenced the baptism and evangelization to the natives.

On this 450th anniversary of discovery of the image of the holy child in Cebu, there is move to bring the pilgrim image of the Sto. Niño De Cebu to different dioceses throughout the country.

“In Luzon area, we have done a visit to Sorsogon, Isabela, Ilocos Norte, Bulacan. In the Visayan region, we are visiting Iloilo and some parts of Cebu. Outside Cebu and Iloilo, so far we have visited Dumaguete,” said Fr. Jonas Mijares, who is the director of the Basilica Minore Del Sto. Niño de Cebu.

Meanwhile, Dumaguete Bishop Julito Cortes expressed his gratitude to the two church officials for bringing the pilgrim image of the holy child in Dumaguete in time for the celebration of the 60th anniversary of the Diocese of Dumaguete.

“We take this occasion to thank the Augustinian who were missionaries, they were responsible in bringing to us the faith that we enjoy today. I invite all our people in the diocese to make this a truly prayer and reflective occasion,” Bishop Cortes said.

Bishop Cortes added that this celebration of the diocese’s 60th anniversary aims to reconnect the people of the diocese to the source of faith which is the Lord Jesus through the image of the Señor Sto. Niño (rmn/ral/PIA7-NegOr/This article was first published at PIA website on April 7, 2015)

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