IT’S probably the most popular image in the Philippines. It’s a “staple” in every Catholic’s household, an image we believe to be our guardian-the Sto. Niño, or the Baby Jesus as the young refers to.
Who wouldn’t be familiar with the Baby Jesus, it’s stamped at the back of our hands for a good deed done or excellent work in school back then. It’s what I was proud of showing my parents at the end of the day. It’s what us schoolchildren always aspire to have.
The Infant Jesus is honored in one of the most popular festivals in the country, its popularity spreading on a global scale. The Sinulog Festival, which happens every January, packs the city of Cebu with devotees of the Santo Niño de Cebu.
|Viva Pit Señor. The Infant Jesus is honored in one of the country’s biggest festivals- the Sinulog. (photo source)|
At the Shrine Hills in Davao, an image of the Santo Niño is enshrined. The statue is said to have come from Prague, saved from destruction during a tumultuous period in the republic. On its feast day on the first month of the year, worshippers flock the hills to pay their respect, pray and seek favors from the Infant Jesus.
|The statue of the Sto. Niño of the Shrine HIlls in Davao, came from Prague.|
|The exterior of the Carmelite Church of Our Lady Victorious in Mala Strana, Prague. It’s a short walk from the famed Charles Bridge|
|Inside the Carmelite Church. The triumphalist altarpiece of Our Lady of Victory, which was sent from Rome by Pope Gregory XV.|
|A familiar image found in the church- Our Lady of the Barangay. It must have been placed by a Filipino devotee.|
I sought out the image on the recent visit to the Bohemian city and was lucky enough to have visited and seen the 16th-century Roman Catholic wax-coated statue of child Jesus holding a globus cruciger, it’s raised two fingers wearing two rings since1788, a thanksgiving gift by a noble Czech family for healing their daughter.
Legend has it that that the statue, which belonged to the Saint Teresa of Avila in the past, possesses miraculous powers, especially among expectant mothers. The Il Bambino was also the protector of the city against plague and the destruction in the 30 years war in the republic.
Through a small entryway by the right of the main altar, the triumphalist altarpiece of Our Lady of Victory which was sent from Rome by Pope Gregory XV, is a spiral stairway that leads to the museum on the upper floor.
|Seen by the spiral staircase leading to the museum.|
Within the small museum is an exhibition of about 80 different vestments of the Infant Jesus, including the most valuable one made and embroidered by Saint Maria Teresa herself.
Here’s an interesting trivia. Though many are more familiar with the Prague image of the Infant Jesus, there are images that pre-date this 16th-cenutry image. Some of the earlier icons of the Child Jesus are the 1400’s Santo Nino de Atocha in Spain, Brussels’ 1500’s statue of the Infant Jesus of Mechelen, and here in the Philippines, the 1521 Santo Niño de Cebu.
|The original statue of the Sto. Niño de Cebu (photo source)|