Child with a globe, scepter, robe and crown

BE childlike, but not childish. Be kind as a child, but be mature in your faith.

Pope Francis’s representative to the Philippines, Archbishop Gabriele Giordano Caccia, gave this message to the estimated 3,500 Cebuano faithful who gathered at the Basilica Minore del Sto. Niño for the grand launch of the “Sto. Niño at 500 Years Celebration” Wednesday, Nov. 13, 2019.

“As a child, we should also be childlike, our attitude should be always like the attitude of a child, but not childish, which is different. We have to grow, like a child, become a man, we have to grow in faith so that we could bring the fruits of faith,” the Italian archbishop said in his homily.

Caccia said the image of the child Jesus, Sto. Niño, with a globe, a scepter and wearing a crown and a robe, is a reminder for the devotees that even as a child, Jesus took his responsibility, just like an adult, when he carried his cross and saved the world from sin.

It is through kindness and gentleness, just as how Jesus remained kind and gentle even if people during his time were refusing and condemning him, that Catholics would be prepared to truly celebrate the faith that has been given to them 500 years ago, he said.

“When a Christian is adult in faith, when he is able to offer to give to others what he has received, we are prepared to celebrate the 500th year of Christianity,” he said.

Caccia, joined by Cebu Archbishop Jose Palma, Cebu Auxiliary Bishop Midyphil Billones and some other 50 priests, led the launch of the celebration with the theme, “Santo Niño, the abiding presence of the Father in our journey of faith.” Local officials led by Cebu City Mayor Edgardo Labella were present.

Other activities of the celebration are the Augustinian Legacy mapping, the 455th Kaplag commemoration, the Sto. Niño Pilgrimage, series of conferences and the improvement of the Sto. Niño Museum, among others.

The launch activity, hosted by the Augustinian priests in Cebu, is in line with the celebration of the 500th Year of Christianity, which is separately celebrated by the Archdiocese of Cebu.