By Rommel F. Lopez

Thai Princess Maha Chakri Sirindhorn is photographed in front of the Magellan Cross monument along with the 57 royal Thai guards. They were in the city for an annual education tour for “a better understanding and appreciation of Christianity”. Photo courtesy of the Basilica Minore del Santo Niño de Cebu website

CEBU CITY — Princess Maha Chakri Sirindhorn, sister of King Maha Vajiralongkorn of Thailand, visited the Basilica Minore del Sto. Niño de Cebu to learn more about the local church’s history.

The visit of Sirindhorn, known commonly in Thailand as “Phra Thep” or “princess angel,” was “part of the annual educational tour of the Chulachomklao Royal Military Academy where the princess is the head of the history department, according to the official website of the Basilica. The princess has a doctorate in developmental education.

Chainarong Monthienvichienchai, chancellor of Saint John’s University in Bangkok Thailand, said the princess teaches at the Royal Academy beyond textbooks by bringing her students to study tours. Since the princess and her students are all Buddhists, he said the tour would give them a better understanding and appreciation of Christianity. The princess arrived accompanied by 57 royal guards.

The princess toured the surroundings of the Basilica, including the Magellan’s Cross and the Pilgrim Center. Inside, she visited the chapel of the Sto. Niño and the Basilica’s museum.

The Philippines will celebrate the 500th year of the arrival of Christianity in 2021 with Cebu considered as the center of the celebrations. Pope Francis has been invited to celebrate the Mass at Cebu but the pope has yet to accept the invitation.

Thailand is predominantly Buddhist. Although there are no provisions in the Thai constitution for a state religion, the Thai monarch, however, is required by law to be a Theravada Buddhist.