Humabon’s Jesus icon returning to Cebu
A historic wooden bust of the suffering Jesus Christ is coming home to Cebu.
The Order of Saint Augustine (OSA) decided to return the four century-old image to the Basilica Minore del Sto. Niño in downtown Cebu City where it was kept from 1572 to 1965.
“This is the third most important icon here in Cebu. We will secure it. I hope the return of the Ecce Homo will deepen our faith,” Fr. Tito Soquino, OSA yesterday told Cebu Daily News.
The wooden sculpture that Portuguese explorer Ferdinand Magellan gave to Cebu’s Rajah Humabon will be enthroned in the basilica on Saturday afternoon.
“The Ecce Homo is a reminder of Jesus’ love and suffering for us,” Cebu Archbishop Jose Palma told CDN.
“It is the property of the Sto. Niño de Cebu. It is most welcome here. It will help cement Cebu’s claim as the cradle of Christianity.”
Augustinians brought the image to the San Agustin Church in Intramuros, Manila 46 years ago.
The Archdiocese of Cebu, through Archbishop Emeritus Ricardo Cardinal Vidal, pressed for the return of the image that was found along with human remains believed to be that of Humabon in Aug. 20, 1572.
“We are inviting everybody (to welcome the Ecce Homo back to Cebu). This is another symbol of the faith of the Cebuanos,” said Soquino, spokesman of the basilica.
Soquino said the image will arrive at the Mactan Cebu International Airport around 1 p.m. on Saturday.
It will be escorted by Augustinian priests in a motorcade to the basilica.
At 4 p.m., Fr. Jose Willliam Araña, regional superior of the Augustinian Vicariate of the Orient, will preside over Holy Mass.
Soquino said Augustinian and Cebu diocesan priests will attend the liturgical celebration.
“This (Cebu) will be the Ecce Homo’s permanent sanctuary already. Our intention is to keep it safe inside the basilica,” he said.
The Augustinians are still deciding where to place the Ecce Homo for public veneration.
A replica of the Ecce Homo is enshrined in the left side of the basilica.
Ecce Homo is Latin for “Behold the man,” Pontius Pilate’s words when he presented Jesus to the crowd after having him scourged.
Soquino said the Ecce Homo is “the least known” icon brought by Magellan in 1521.
Magellan gave the image of the Sto. Niño to Cebu’s Queen Juana during her baptism.
He gave the image of Our Lady of Guadalupe to the Cebuano natives who were baptized into the Catholic faith.
Magellan presented the Ecce Homo to Cebu’s chieftain King Humabon whom Augustinian missionaries baptized Carlos.
The Ecce Homo was rediscovered in Cebu on Aug. 20, 1572, the day Miguel Lopez de Legaspi died in Manila.
The image was found on the chest of a Rajah Carli’s.
According to a 1921 writing of Fray Manuel D. Aguado, OSA, the burial belongs to Humabon.
Humabon, Aguado said, was baptized Carlos, to which Carli sounds close.
Augustinian friars brought the Ecce Homo to Manila during the Fourth Centennial Celebration of the Christianization of the Philippines in 1965 when the Filipino province and Spanish provinces of the Augustinian community separated.
Since then, only a replica of the image was found in Cebu.
Msgr. Cristobal Garcia, chairman of the Archdiocesan Commission on Worship, has been using a replica of the Ecce Homo during the annual reenactment of the first baptism in Cebu.
Soquino said the Augustinians hope to propagate devotion to the image of the suffering Christ, whom Cebuanos can relate to in these hard times.
The image is a sign of Cebuano religiosity, said Jose Eleazar Bersales, provincial consultant on heritage.
“I’m sure it will bolster the Catholic faith of the Cebuanos,” he said.
The presence of the image in the San Agustin Church held no meaning because it belonged to Cebu, he said.
“It took them so long to return it. It’s a work of art that’s part of Cebu’s heritage,” he said.
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