"Remember, I am with you always to the end of the age" (Mt 28:20)

500 years since the arrival of the image of the Sto. Niño de Cebu (The Child Jesus of Cebu)

Ferdinand Magellan, a Portuguese explorer sailing for Spain, was the first European recorded to have landed in the Philippine islands five centuries ago in March 1521. Two of the five ships in his fleet were named after Mary: Victoria and Conceptión. After Magellan’s death at the hands of angry locals in April 1521, the Conceptión was abandoned and burned down. What remained was Victoria, which successfully returned to Seville Spain in September 1522 where Magellan first took an oath of allegiance to Charles V at the church of Santa Maria de la Victoria de Triana after which the ship was named. The other ships were Trinidad, Magellan's flagship; Santiago, which was wrecked or scuttled; San Antonio, which deserted the expedition during the navigation of the Straits of Magellan and returned to Spain on her own. It was Victoria alone that was able to return to become the first vessel in human history to circumnavigate the earth.

This year, the whole Philippine nation commemorates 500 years of Magellan's historic rediscovery of the Philippines. He brought with him the adorable curly-haired statue of the Sto. Niño de Cebu (The Child Jesus of Cebu). Every year in January the Feast of Sto. Niño is held locally complete with a nine day long Sinulog festivity with joyous parades, music and dance. It is the oldest Christian artifact in the Philippines which was given as a gift by Ferdinand Magellan to the wife of the Raja of Cebu, Raja Humabon, after their conversion to Christianity.

Wooden statue of the original image of
the Child Jesus of Cebu

The little Jesus disappeared until its rediscovery in 1565. The oldest church in the Philippines, the Basilica Minore del Santo Niño is said to be built over the spot where it was found. The basilica was destroyed by fire twice and was bombed during the Second World War. Miraculously the little image of the Sto. Niño has escaped unscathed. I would like to think though that all these were nothing compared to the perils when it first journeyed from Europe across the Atlantic and Pacific oceans. Perhaps we can attribute also this protection from the Holy Child's mother, the Blessed Virgin Mary herself, whose patronage guided the Child Jesus' expedition all the way from Europe to the Philippines and throughout the past 500 years.


  1. Thanks for the facts to recall our history....Yes, a loving mother like Our Blessed Virgin Mary will always protect her child... and to send her Child as a gift to us, Filipinos, during the First Baptism and conversion of Raja Humabon and his wife to Christianity... We are looking forward...Soon we will be celebrating the Feast of Sto. Nino... I was reminded from the mass today from the Sacred Heart School Cebu... Have a fruitful day, Fr. Jom!

    1. 2021 is quite special to us Filipinos gifted with the faith through the Sto. Nino. And extra special to us gifted with St. Ignatius' spirituality because this year too is Ignatian Year! God bless us always!

    2. Grateful to know its Ignatian Year...More blessings and offered prayers for all the Jesuits and their lay mission partners... Keep animating the Church and the world with your love and service for God!


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