The Basilica Minore del Santo Niño de Cebu (BMSN)

For the second year in a row, the celebration of the feast of the Señor Santo Niño de Cebu will be celebrated virtually.

Fr. John Ion Miranda, OSA, who oversees the safety and security of the fiesta celebration said the Augustinian priests of the Minor Basilica of the Sto. Niño de Cebu and the local government of Cebu, decided to hold all celebrations of the 457th fiesta of the Señor Santo Niño de Cebu celebration next year virtually despite the decrease of Covid-19 cases in Cebu City.

Miranda, in a statement that he read, said since the pandemic continues to “linger” and with the expected influx of devotees, they have decided to further lessen activities where people gather.

He added that there would be no veneration of the original image of the Sto. Niño inside the basilica, which will be closed to the public.

Instead, he said, a replica of the image will be enshrined at the open-air pilgrim center, still within the basilica compound, for public veneration. The kandila-an (area where votive candles are lighted) will also be transferred to the pilgrim center.

Starting January 7, 2022, all of the 10 daily novena masses will be celebrated live inside the basilica and streamed in its official social media platforms. Only 120 individuals are allowed inside the church during novena masses, which would be comprised mostly of the clergy, volunteers, and this year’s Hermano or Hermana Mayor.

Unlike in previous years, the Augustinian priests would also forgo the installation of big LED screens and speakers around the basilica compound to avoid gathering people. Only fully-vaccinated individuals are allowed to volunteer to serve in the fiesta activities.

Miranda said major Fiesta Señor activities, which include the Walk with Jesus, Walk With Mary, and the Solemn Penitential Walk will be replaced with the conduct of motorcades.

The penitential walk, which attracts thousands of devotees from across the globe pre-pandemic, will be replaced with a motorcade that would cover the cities of Cebu, Talisay, Mandaue, Lapu-Lapu, and Cordova town on Jan. 15.

The basilica encourages parishes and the different Cofradia del Sto. Niño de Cebu chapters around the globe to have their own novena in their respective parishes.

“We appeal for understanding of all Cebuanos and devotees of Sr. Sto Niño de Cebu as we take on precautionary measures to protect the health of all. It is our moral and Christian obligation to protect one another against covid-19,” Miranda said. – Ryan Sorote