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The Child is with them

Filipino image of Divino Niño finds permanent home at St. Bernard Parish

Rossamina Tumulak, a parishioner at St Bernard Church, pays her respects to the image of

Photographer: JONATHAN MARTINEZ | FC

Rossamina Tumulak, a parishioner at St Bernard Church, pays her respects to the image of "El Santo Niño" during Communion.

Seen here in the background, Father Carlos Vega, pastor at St. Bernard Church, called upon the children present at the Mass to come to the altar and participate in a special blessing in honor of the arrival of the image of

Photographer: JONATHAN MARTINEZ | FC

Seen here in the background, Father Carlos Vega, pastor at St. Bernard Church, called upon the children present at the Mass to come to the altar and participate in a special blessing in honor of the arrival of the image of "El Santo Niño."

SUNRISE | For centuries, “El Santo Niño de Cebú” has been venerated by Filipino Catholics worldwide. This month, after a 25-year wait, the Filipino community of South Florida welcomed the arrival of the image of El Santo Niño, brought from Cebú City, Philippines, to its new home in Broward County.

Hundreds gathered at St. Bernard Church Dec. 8 to take part in the blessing and enshrinement of the image of the Holy Child at its first permanent shrine inside a church in South Florida.

“I believe this is incredibly meaningful for the Filipino community but especially for those, like me, that are originally from Cebú,” said Noel Demecillo, parishioner and member of the Sinulog, a festival for the Holy Child held every January in Cebú City. “Having the icon here links us to our homeland where the Santo Niño is celebrated.”

Father Carlos Vega pastor at St. Bernard Church in Sunrise, kneels and prays in front of the image of

Photographer: JONATHAN MARTINEZ | FC

Father Carlos Vega pastor at St. Bernard Church in Sunrise, kneels and prays in front of the image of "El Santo Niño de Cebú." The image was brought from Cebú, Philippines and now resides permanently in its own shrine at St. Bernard.

“Having the Santo Niño helps us feel safe. Everyone has one in their home, a small statue, but one nonetheless,” said Linda Ranchaz, originally from Cebú and now a parishioner at St. Bonaventure in Davie. “It is such a big part of who we are as a people. If there is something wrong we know to pray and there will always be an answer.”

“This new generation was born here so we are entrusted with telling them about the Santo Niño and keeping our tradition alive,” Ranchaz added.

The enthronement took place during a trilingual Mass (English, Tagalog and Cebuano) celebrated by Father Carlos Vega, St. Bernard’s pastor.

“For 25 years, St. Bernard has celebrated the Sinulog but never had its own Santo Niño and now are the first ones in South Florida to have this shrine inside the church so the people can come and ask him for his intercession,” said Father Vega, during his homily. “We are grateful to the Filipino community for this gift to our parish.”

The image originated in 1521 as a baptismal gift from Portuguese explorer Ferdinand Magellan to Queen Juana in the village of Cebú. The statue was lost for several decades until 1585, when a sailor found the image inside a small pine box, preserved in almost perfect condition. It had on a little shirt and a cap; two of the fingers on its right hand were raised in a gesture of blessing while the left hand held a globe symbolizing the world.

SIMBANG GABI SCHEDULE
The Filipino community began gathering Dec. 15 for its traditional Simbang Gabi novena of Masses in preparation for Christmas. Here is the schedule of the remaining Masses, locations and themes:
  • Tuesday, Dec.  17: St. Bartholomew, Miramar, 7:30 p.m. “Hoping for Rebirth to a New Life”
  • Thursday, Dec. 19: St. Bernadette, Hollywood, 7 p.m. “Praising and Thanking the God for Life’s Surprises”
  • Friday, Dec. 20: St. Rose of Lima, Miami Shores, 7:30 p.m. “Responding to God’s Awesome Love”
  • Saturday, Dec. 21: St. Kevin, Miami, 4 p.m. “Being a Person for Others”
  • Sunday, Dec. 22: St. Joseph, Miami Beach, 7:30 p.m. “Proclaiming God’s Love”
  • Monday, Dec. 23: St. Mark, Southwest Ranches, 7 p.m. “Following the Footsteps of Christ”; Mass celebrated by Archbishop Thomas Wenski.
The image was then entrusted to the Augustinian Fathers and later a church was built at the same location where it was found, currently known as the Minor Basilica of Santo Niño. Many miracles have been attributed to the image, including during World War II when a bomb fell inside the church but the image was found unscathed.

“The Santo Niño is my favorite devotion. So many miracles in my life have happened because of my prayers to the holy infant Jesus,” said Mommy Dano, a St. Bernard parishioner. “For example, my child had meningitis and I prayed a novena to the Santo Niño and after the ninth day her eyes opened wide after she had been lifeless and (she) began to heal.”

St. Bernard will serve as the permanent home for “El Santo Niño de Cebú” and welcomes anyone to visit him at the indoor shrine.

The image of

Photographer: JONATHAN MARTINEZ | FC

The image of "El Santo Niño de Cebú" is moved in procession to its final resting place inside St. Bernard Church in Sunrise.

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