As the procession continued around the perimeter of the church, people carrying statues of the Christ child lifted it over their heads and danced with it, much like they would in the large parades in the Philippines.
Filipino communities in parishes throughout the Diocese shared their devotion to the Santo Niño de Cebu, an image of the Infant Jesus of Prague, Jan. 17 and 18. Several parishes commemorated the Filipino tradition with Masses, processions and gatherings with traditional food and dances.
“There are so many miracles associated with the image, especially in the Philippines,” Tessie Vengco, a parishioner at St. Paul the Apostle said. “We come here and we process around the church with Jesus at the front. That is what it is all about.”
Vengco, along with many other parishioners, came with images of the infant Jesus, walked in the procession and had the images blessed by Father Michael Sturn at the end of the Mass.
Other parishes in the diocese, like St. Mary, Fontana and Our Lady of the Assumption, San Bernardino, held similar activities. Several parishes also incorporated traditional dances during their receptions.
Back in the Philippines, the devotion to the Santo Niño de Cebu culminates with the annual Sinulog festival, a parade through the streets in Cebu City. It is observed on the third Sunday of January and is highlighted with a dance that commemorates the Cebuano people’s Islamic and pagan origins and their acceptance of the Roman Catholic faith.
For centuries the Santo Niño has been revered and celebrated in the Philippines and now in America, as Filipino immigrants brought their religious traditions to this country. The Santo Niño de Cebú is a Roman Catholic figure of the Christ child that was given to the queen of the Philippines in 1521 by Ferdinand Magellan.