‘Walk with Jesus’ kicks off Cebu’s Sto. Niño festival
CEBU CITY—Thousands of devotees are expected to join the foot procession on Thursday that will kick off the 10-day festivities leading to Cebu’s biggest festival in honor of the Holy Child Jesus.
At least 600 policemen would be deployed to secure the 2-kilometer procession route for the “Walk with Jesus” as this marked the return of the in-person religious activities for the Sinulog, the first time in almost three years since the health protocols and restrictions were put in place to stop the spread of COVID-19 in 2020.
The procession was scheduled to kick off at 4 a.m. along the Fuente Osmeña rotunda to the Basilica Minore del Santo Niño in downtown Cebu City.
Fr. John Ion Miranda, OSA, director for the Fiesta Señor secretariat, said they had coordinated with all government agencies when they decided to resume all prepandemic activities.
Religious activities for the Fiesta Señor are expected to draw millions of devotees to Cebu. These are separate from the Sinulog Festival organized by the city government.
Wearing of face masks is no longer required in all the religious activities but Miranda encourages devotees to keep their masks on.
The centuries-old basilica and its open-air Pilgrim Center, which could accommodate 6,000 people, would be open at 100-percent capacity.
LED screens would be put up in the surrounding parks and streets for those who could no longer be accommodated inside the church compound.
Fr. Nelson Zerda, OSA, rector of the centuries-old church, would preside over the first novena and Mass at 5:30 a.m. Thursday.
Open for devotees
The 458th fiesta celebration would focus on the theme, “Santo Niño: Our source of peace in the walk of faith.”
For the first time in three years, the basilica, which has been the center of the 400-year-old devotion to the Santo Niño, would be open 24 hours a day from Jan. 17 to Jan. 20 for devotees.
Except for Jan. 5 and Jan. 13 where dawn processions will be held, at least 11 Masses will be celebrated a day in the basilica in Cebuano and English starting at 5:30 a.m. until 7 p.m.
Aside from the “Walk with Jesus” on Thursday, another traditional prayer walk from Fuente Osmeña to the basilica will be held on Jan. 13 for the “Walk With Mary.”
After the 5:30 a.m. Mass that day, the images of the Santo Niño and Our Lady of Guadalupe de Cebu will be taken to the National Shrine of St. Joseph in Mandaue City in a motorcade.
At midnight of Jan. 14, the images would be taken to the National Shrine of Our Lady of the Rule in Lapu-Lapu City. The images would be returned to the basilica through a fluvial procession through the Mactan channel to Pier 1 in Cebu City at 6 a.m. on Saturday.
The reenactment of the planting of the cross, first Mass, baptism and wedding would follow at the basilica’s Pilgrim Center.
At 1 p.m. on Jan. 14, the solemn foot procession for the Santo Niño will be held along major streets in the city. It will be followed by a pontifical Mass and the hourlong dancing of the traditional Sinulog with prayer petitions.
On the feast day of the Santo Niño on Jan. 15, Cebu Archbishop Jose Palma willcelebrate the pontifical Mass at 6 a.m. at the basilica’s Pilgrim Center.
Side by side with the church-led activities is the Sinulog Festival which is also expected to draw thousands of people at South Road Properties.
Sinulog is a cultural and religious festival held every third Sunday of January in honor of the Santo Niño. It is essentially a dance ritual that commemorates the Cebuanos’ pagan past and their acceptance of Christianity.
This year’s Sinulog grand parade would be held for the first time at South Road Properties, Cebu City’s newest commercial hub that rose out of a city-developed 300-hectare reclamation area.
The festival used to be held at the city’s main thoroughfares, mainly along Osmeña Boulevard, with the final staging held at the Cebu City Sports Center. INQ
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