Sunday January 28, 2018
Welcome Bishop Pat and members of the Philippine communities.
In Malolos City, Bulacan, 40 Km north of Manila, enormous crowds gather at the end of January each year for a grand feast to celebrate the Santo Nino, the Holy Child, one of the most widely revered holy figures in the Philippines.
Malolos is home to a revered image, the Santo Nino of Malolos, but the feast here is notable because more than 200 other images of the Santo Nino, some traditional and some quite imaginative, are processed along with it. Like the participants, these images come from all over the country, occasionally even from abroad. The celebration, while much smaller than the annual one in Cebu (https://www.catholicsandcultures.org/philippines/santo-nino/ santo-nino-and-sinulog.cebu), provides a way of seeing in a single place how many local manifestations of the Santo Nino have made their way into Filipino life and culture. The Malolos feast is the largest celebration of Santo Nino on Luzon Island.
The Santo Nino of Malolos is an antique ivory image, locally regarded as miraculous, that belongs to a prominent Filipino-Chinese family, the Tantacos. A foundation was established to encourage and propagate devotion.
The oldest and most popular Santo Nino image in the Santo Nino of Cebu – revered by Cebuanos, people from the region in and around the city of Cebu. The devotion has spread beyond that region, and its images are common sight in homes and shops around the country and in the Filipino diaspora.
In the 21st century, this level of devotion to the image of a boy Jesus is unique to the Philippines. In Cebu it reaches fever pitch early in January with crowds flocking to the basilica that houses it and the city and harbour are taken over for days by processions, colourful parades and celebrations. The name of that feast, Sinulog, refers to a ritual dance inspired and performed before the Santo Nino.
Though many processions in the Philippines contain large numbers of saints, a procession with so many images gives evidence to the deeply ingrained piety in Filipino culture.
This weekend we welcome Bishop Pat O’Regan who leads this devotion recognising the faithful presence of our Brothers and Sisters from the Philippines who warmly share their devotion and celebration with us.
All are welcome among us here at St Mary’s Cathedral Parish, Sale.
Dean Peter A Bickley