by Fr. Pedro G. Galende, OSA
In 1565, when Miguel López de Legazpi landed in Cebu, his expedition stumbled across a wooden box holding a figure of the Holy Child—believed to be the same one that Magellan had given Rajah Humabon’s wife Juana almost fifty years prior. Today, the Santo Niño de Cebu sits enthroned on the site of its miraculous discovery, where now stands a stone church consecrated in 1740 that eventually became the Basilica del Santo Niño. The image occupies a special place in the hearts of devotees from all stations in life, who gather by the multitudes every year during the festival commemorating the Holy Child and express their faith with shouts of Pit Señor!
Santo Niño de Cebu, 1565-2015, follows the blessed image on its journey through time to become the oldest and most beloved Catholic icon in the Philippines. In this book, Fr. Pedro G. Galende meticulously details the historical background of the Augustinian Order, the voyages of Magellan, Urdaneta, and Legazpi, the wondrous circumstances of the image’s discovery, and the construction of its basilica. Particular attention is given to creating a detailed history of its attached colegio (convent school) and the role that Augustinian formal education played in the shaping of Cebuano culture.
Father Galende’s research also delves into the devotion, rituals, and folk beliefs that surround the Santo Niño up to the present day. The book views the image from phenomenological and historical angles but also recalls the mystical awe that it inspires, which defies explanation. Using Filipino scholar Astrid Sala-Boza’s scholarship on Carl Jung’s concept of synchronicity, the book provides another framework from which to view this devotion with a psychological perspective.
The book is significant because of the author’s exhaustive research using primary documents from the Archivo de la Provincia Agustiniana de Filipinas (APAF), Archivo General de Indias, the Santo Niño Museum Archive, and the Bibliothèque Nationale de France. He offers the firsttime reader a rich historical summary using classic Spanish sources such as Gaspar de San Agustin, Francisco Colin, Pedro Chirino, Francisco Combes, Juan de la Concepción, Fernández de Navarrete, Francisco Pacheco, Juan de Grijalva, Juan de Medina, Joaquín Martínez de Zúñiga, Wenceslao Retana, and others. His adventurous scholarship also includes readings from Antonio Pigafetta, Blair and Robertson, Jean Baptiste Mallat, Hugh Pope, John and Catalina Villanueva. The book is rounded off with studies from eminent Augustinian scholars: Gregorio de Santiago de Vela, Isacio Rodríguez, Basilio Robles Estrada, Fermín Uncilla, Atilano Sanz Pascual, Manuel Díez Aguado, David Gutiérrez, Bernardo Martínez, Pedro Martínez Vélez, Luis Merino, and Rafael López.