Visiting Cebu is never complete without paying homage to the Child Jesus – Sto. Nio in Cebu . The Basilica Minore del Sto. Niño is the oldest and holiest church of Cebu. People from all over world, of different backgrounds and religions, never miss visiting the Basilica when in Cebu.
The first European visit recorded was the arrival of Ferdinand Magellan, a Portuguese explorer, skilled sailor, and naval officer selected by King Charles I of Spain in 1521. He befriended the Rajah or King of Cebu, Rajah Humabon, that led to the conversion into Christianity. The queen, Hara Amihan, was presented with the Santo Niño, which symbolizes peace and friendship between the Spaniards and Cebuanos.
The statue was found by a soldier of Miguel Lopez de Legaspi after he razed the village of hostile natives. It was preserved in a burnt wooden box forty years after it was given to Hara Amihan, Rajah Humabon's wife.
The Basilica Minore del Sto. Niño, presently called as Santo Niño Basilica, was established in the same spot where the statue was found in 1565. It is the oldest Roman Catholic Church, and the Mother and Head of all churches in the Philippines.
The church of the Holy Child was founded by Andres de Urdaneta, an Augustinian priest and was built out of hard wood and nipa. The church has gone through a lot – it burned down in 1566 and 1628 until it was rebuilt with bricks and stones. In 1746, the convent and library were added.
These interesting facts of the Basilica drive tourists and foreign guests to explore its history and wonder. It was declared as a National Historical Landmark in 1941 and widely visited by people who are keen on history.
What To See
Inside the Basilica complex, there is a museum that showcases antique relics, statues, toys that were given as gifts to the Child Jesus, century-old furniture, cloaks and vestments donated over the century – all relating to Christianity in Cebu. It also houses valuable jewelry from rings to necklaces for the Holy Child to use during his annual feast on the third Sunday of January. The museum is open for public viewing from Sunday – Monday (except Wednesday) at 8:00 AM – 11:45 AM and 1:30 PM – 4:45 PM with the following registration fees:
Adult – Php 30 (65 cents)
Senior Citizen – Php 15 (33 cents)
Student – Php 10 (22 cents)
Children – Php 10 (22 cents)
The Basilica del Sto. Niño library is open for researchers doing specific studies on Sto. Niño de Cebu and has a collection of various books like religion, history, theology, geography, philosophy, social science, arts and literature, and more.
Learn, explore, and witness the oldest and holiest church in Cebu, Philippines on your trip and other historical sites in Cebu City. And incase you have plenty of time to waste, you can also visit the Oslob Whale Sharks and Kawasan Falls .