A capa magna and inner vestment worn in the 19th century by the original image of the Santo Niño de Cebu are on display at the Temporary Exhibition Gallery of the Museum of São Roque in Lisbon, Portugal, from December 10, 2021, to February 6, 2022. The artifacts are on loan from the Basilica Minore del Santo Niño de Cebu (BMSN) Museum as part of the exhibit Santo Niño de Cebu: An Icon of Philippine Culture and History.
Organized by Santa Casa da Misericórdia de Lisboa, Museum of São Roque, Embassy of the Republic of the Philippines in Lisbon, and the National Quincentennial Committee-National Historical Commission of the Philippines, the exhibition is part of the commemorations of the 500th anniversary of the Magellan-Elcano expedition, an epic journey where the Philippines played an important part. In collaboration with the National Historical Commission of the Philippines (NHCP), the Province of Santo Niño de Cebu of the Order of Saint Augustine (“Santo Niño de Cebu Augustinians”), BMSN, and Cebu City’s Sinulog Foundation, the organizers believed that the inclusions of the Santo Niño de Cebu vestments would “impart a profound impression to the Portuguese audience” for them “to appreciate and understand the historical narrative and the significance of the Santo Niño in the lives of the Filipinos.”
The artifacts-on-loan are registered and recognized by the Philippine Registry of Cultural Property of the National Commission for Culture and Arts (NCCA).
Fr. Andres Rivera, Jr, OSA, the Prior of the Santo Niño de Cebu Augustinians, and his Council, accepted the organizers’ invitation to be part of the endeavor to promote the devotion to the Holy Child.
A letter – noted by BMSN Rector Fr. Nelson G. Zerda, OSA, and sent to the Philippine Ambassador to Portugal, Celia Anna M. Feria – pointed out that “Ferdinand Magellan was instrumental in bringing the Santo Niño image to Philippine soil and in giving it as a gift to the Queen of Cebu, Queen Juana, during the first baptism in the island of Cebu. Since then, the Santo Niño de Cebu icon has and will forever be a symbol of faith to the Filipinos. If not for Magellan’s initiative to leave the Santo Niño image to the first Christianized Filipinos, we would not have tangible proof of that historic conversion to the Catholic faith in 1521.”
Fr. Nestor B. Bandalan, Jr., OSA, the BMSN Museum Director, highlighted that “the vesting of the magna capa indeed forms part of the Santo Niño festivity in January on the grand Sinulog festival every third Sunday. Once every year, specifically during the feast, the regalia of the Santo Niño, composed of the magna capa and the vest, is being changed.” “All these vestments form part of the heritage of the Cebuano people, an expression of their love and devotion to the Holy Child, particularly on the part of the benefactors who donate the vestments,” Fr. Bandalan emphasized.
Fr. Bandalan and Fr. Basilio Sugata-on, OSA, the BMSN Prior, attended the opening of the exhibition, which is also in observance of the Santo Niño at 500 Celebrations, Quincentennial Commemorations in the Philippines, Year of the Filipino Pre-Colonial Ancestors, and Magalhaes. 500 Years. Magellan’s Circumnavigation, and is also supported by NCCA, the Department of Foreign Affairs of the Republic of the Philippines, and the Cebu City Government.
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