Basilica del Santo Niño: The Oldest Church in Cebu City
June 10, 2018
Founded as a Spanish colony in 16th Century, Cebu City is the oldest city here in the Philippines. This is also the place where we can find the oldest Roman Catholic Church in the entire country. The Basílica Minore del Santo Niño de Cebú (Minor Basilica of the Holy Child of Cebú) also known as the Santo Niño Basilica, was founded in 1565 by Fray Andrés de Urdaneta, O.S.A, and Fray Diego de Herrera, O.S.A.
Just like any other churches, this was no stranger to calamities and hardships. Before the Existing baroque structure was built in 1737, earlier structures were destroyed by fire. Last October 2013, its facade was badly damaged by an earthquake but was restored.
Perhaps the church owes its seditious past to the perennial bonfire of candles in its courtyard, stoked by an endless procession of pilgrims and other worshipers. The object of their veneration is an image of the infant Jesus, separated in a chapel to the left of the altar and dates back to Magellan’s time and is said to be miraculous. Every year, the image is the centerpiece of Cebu’s largest yearly event, the Sinulog Festival.
The street outside the church is closed to vehicular traffic on Sundays and Fridays, all-day outdoor masses are held and the basilica turns into a sea of pilgrims, water sellers and replica Santo Niño salespeople.