Augustinians hope Pope Francis, Duterte will attend quincentennial celebrations in 2021
CEBU CITY, Philippines — The Order of Saint Augustine (OSA) is hoping to bring together the leaders of the Catholic Church and the Philippines as the country commemorates the 500th year since the arrival of Christianity in 2021.
The arrival of Christianity also entailed the arrival of the image of the Señor Santo Niño de Cebu, the oldest Catholic image in the country, which was gifted by Portuguese explorer Ferdinand Magellan to Reyna Juana of Cebu upon their conversion to Christianity in 1521.
Since 1565, the Augustinians have been the caretakers of the image of the Holy Child that is housed at the Basilica Minore del Santo Niño in Cebu City.
Fr. Aladdin Luzon, chairman of the Santo Niño at 500 Years Committee, said they were exerting efforts to invite Pope Francis and President Rodrigo Duterte for the quincentennial celebration.
“For 2021, the invitation for the pope is still pending. There is no definitive confirmation yet from the pope,” Fr. Luzon said in a press conference on Monday, November 11.
This November 13, the Augustinians will officially launch the 500th year commemoration at the Basilica.
Heightened security will be implemented during the launch, with over 500 policemen to be deployed, since it will be graced by Archbishop Gabriele Giordano Caccia, the Apostolic Nuncio to the Philippines.
Archbishop Caccia will be the main celebrant of the Mass during the launching.
The Augustinian friars earlier announced that there would be a no-backpack policy during the entire celebration.
Between November 13 and the celebration in 2021, Fr. Luzon said they would be backtracking the places in the country where the first Augustinian friars preached Christianity in time with the commemoration on the arrival of the Christian faith in 2021.
He said they had already coordinated with the Department of Tourism (DOT) for the series of activities that they would conduct in the religious historic sites.
Among these sites are Limasawa Island in Southern Leyte where the first Easter Mass in the Philippines was held on March 1621, and Panay Island which became the cradle of Christianity during the return of the Spaniards in 1565./dbs
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