The Minor Basilica of the Santo Niño or Basilica Minore del Santo Niño is a 16th century church in Cebu City in the Philippines. It was built purportedly on the spot where the image of the Santo Niño, a sculpture depicting the Holy Child Jesus found by Spanish explorers in 1565 preserved in a burned wooden box which was left behind during the 1521 Magellan expedition.
Titular Saint: (formerly known as “San Agustin Church”)
Elevated into a basilica: Basilica Minore del Santo Niño de Cebu
On April 28, 1565, the First convent was founded. The convent was built out of wood and nipa on the site where the image was found. Diego de Hererra headed the construction of the convent but the church was by Fray Andres de Urdaneta, OSA. It was burned in 1566.
Fr. Pedro Torres built again another church out of wood and nipa from 1605 to 1626 but was destroyed because of fire in 1628.
In 1628, Fr. Juan Medina, OSA re-built the church finally not anymore out of wood and nipa but with stone and bricks.
In 1731 Fr. Jose Bosqued suggested the need to demolish the building of the Sto. Niño which was in ruins. And, eventually built another church on the same site.
Fifth Church and final:
In 1735, (February 29), the present foundations of the Church was built through the collaborative efforts of Fr. Provincial Bergaño, Governor-General Fernando Valdes, Bishop manuel Antonio Decio y Ocampo of Cebu and Juan de Albarran. The stones used for the construction of the present church were quarried from Capiz and Panay by an army of bancas. The church was finished in 1739.
Both the Church and convent underwent a bigger restoration on the ocassion of the fourth centennial of the Christianization of the country. Pope Paul VI elevated the church to the rank of minor basilica.
A museum inside the Basilica showcases the history of Christianity in Cebu. Antique objects are on display, including century-old furniture, priestly vestments and the Santo Nino’s old cloaks donated by individuals over the centuries. Religious articles such as statues and relics are also displayed and other items of daily life from the adjacent convento. Several toys may also be seen; these are said to be presents to the Child Jesus, as well as a large Santo Niño rosary composed of 15 beads.
Some important dates were taken from the book “Angels and Stones” by Fr. Pedro Galende, OSA