Same procession route, different Sto. Niño icons

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A different replica of the Sto. Niño de Cebu image will sail on a galleon down the Mactan Channel for the fluvial procession on Jan. 19.

The sea procession will start in Mandaue City at 6 a.m., an hour earlier than in previous years.

And the icon will no longer stop by the Ouano residence for prayer rituals in order to avoid crowding and schedule delays.

For the solemn foot procession in Cebu City in the afternoon, however, the same 5.8-kilometer route as last year’s will be used.

These are some of the changes announced yesterday by Agustinan rector Fr. Jonas Mejares of the Basilica Minore del Sto. Niño, which leads the religious activities of the 2013 Sto. Niño Fiesta.

The original wooden icon remains in a chapel of the centuries-old basilica in downtown Cebu City where the number of devotees will swell as nine-day novena Masses start today leading up to the feast day on Jan. 20.

Fr. Mejares said they chose to feature for this year’s sea procession the image of the Child Jesus that is kept inside the basilica museum.

“That image has been brought to various places. Its face is close to the original Sto. Niño,” he said in a press conference yesterday at the basilica’s Aula Magna.

“The original Sto. Niño is the one venerated by people (inside the basilica)).”

Fr. Mejares said the Augustinian friars, who supervise the basilica, chose not to use for religious processions the original Sto. Niño image given as baptismal gift by Portuguese explorer Ferdinand Magellan to Cebu’s Queen Juana in 1521.

The original image of the Child Jesus, which survived fires and quakes, can be distinguished through a visible scratch on the right cheek and traces of black paint on the forehead.

A steel-bracket was placed to support the back of the image.

The religious feast officially starts today with the “Walk With Jesus” from Fuente Osmeña to the basilica at 4:30 am.

For many years, the annual fluvial procession used an image of the Sto. Niño owned by the Cebu Archdiocese and kept under the custody of Msgr. Cristobal Garcia.

The image is venerated at the Archdiocese Shrine of Hesus Nazareno in Cansojong, Talisay city. It was blessed by Pope John Paul II when it was brought by Garcia to Castel Gandolfo, the papal summer residence in Italy in 1990.

For the solemn foot procession in the afternoon of Jan. 19, a separate icon at the rector’s office will be used.

Mejares said this image has features that closest resemble the original Sto. Niño.

The Augustinians are using the same 5.8-kilometer route as last year’s solemn foot procession on Jan. 19. The prayer walk will start at 1:30 p.m.

From the basilica, the carrozas of St. Joseph, Our Lady of Consolation, and the Sto. Niño de Cebu will pass along Osmeña Boulevard.

Upon reaching the Fuente Osmeña circle, the procession will proceed to General Maxilom Avenue, Imus Street, MJ Cuenco Avenue, Osmena Boulevard near Plaza Independencia and back to the basilica.

No firecrackers or “kwitis” are allowed to protect the crowd from injuries but pyrotechnics which light up the sky can be used.

The rosary will be led by lay ministers in Cebuano and English at the Pilgrim Center while the procession is going on. The prayers will be aired live over radio dyLA, the official media partner of the basilica. In past years, the rosary was recited in Tagalog, Ilonggo and other Filipino langugages and sometimes Spanish, Latin, Italian and German.

The fluvial procession will start at 6 a.m. at the Ouano Wharf in Mandaue City, through the Mactan channel to pier 1 in Cebu City.

Pat Acabodillo, who heads the Mandaue City preparations, said the image will no longer be brought inside the Ouano compound.

“We noticed that whenever the image is brought to the Ouano compound for some rituals, the people would rush there and the transfer of the image to the Ouano owned galleon gets delayed,” he said. With Correspondent Christine Emily L. Pantaleon

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