Centuries-old Santo Niño image lost in Pandacan church fire
MANILA, Philippines — While the 400-year-old image of the Child Jesus was not saved from the fire that hit the Santo Niño de Pandacan Parish in Manila on Friday, church workers have found the ciborium with the Blessed Sacrament intact.
“This is the biggest miracle. While looking for the image, the sacred host was found. We were pointed to Jesus,” parish priest Fr. Sanny de Claro told those who attended the Mass in tents set up outside the damaged church on Sunday.
“When the ciborium was opened, the sacred host was there, mixed with some charcoal,” an emotional De Claro said during the Mass streamed live on Facebook.
He added that the ciborium and the consecrated hosts were now in the safekeeping of San Fernando de Dilao Parish Church in Paco.
He asked parishioners to remain hopeful despite the challenges as he told them, “We are the church. Let’s start again. Let’s rebuild the church of our faith.”
When some became emotional, De Claro said, “Stop weeping. Let’s all rise … stronger and united. Let us not sulk in sadness and despair. We are with Jesus and He is here.”
He recalled that when the fire broke out, the image of the Sto. Niño was at the chapel in the convent.
“The fire spread quickly, and even those who were staying in the parish were only able to save the clothes they were wearing,” he said.
Message to faithful
Even though they were unable to retrieve the physical image of the Child Jesus, it should not hinder them from continuously honoring the revered image, De Claro said. “The fact is, we have already found our Sto. Niño. He is here with us, whole. Let us receive Him during the Mass and allow Him to reign in our heart.”
He added that while the Sto. Niño image and other religious icons were burned during the fire, they found one of his “tres potencias,” a set of three rays protruding from the head of the image, although half of it was already melted.
Later on, church workers also found the globe and the scepter that the Sto. Niño were holding as well as the “andador” or the support for the image and its burnt vestment.
According to the priest, some liturgical objects such as the chalices were also undamaged and could still be used.
These relics, he said, would be shown to the public in the coming days.
The charred crucifix that used to hang prominently by the altar before the fire broke out was placed at the altar set up during yesterday’s Mass.
De Claro expressed optimism that they would be able to rebuild the destroyed church soon.
—With a report from Meg Adonis
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