Our Lady of Guadalupe de Cebu: A Homage

CEBU, Philippines - The feast of Our Lady of Guadalupe de Cebu gathers devotees to a euphoric state of holiness and bliss. With the holy festivity, Catholic faithful are in reverence to the patroness of Cebu whose miracles make people kneel down in deep prayer.

The Our Lady of Guadalupe de Cebu is the official patroness of Cebu City, although many presume that it is the Sto. Niño for whom the annual Sinulog is being celebrated.
The “debate on the technicality” of the Santo Niño being referred to as patron saint surfaced on the premise that “the Holy Child is a representation of Jesus, the Second Person of the Trinity and therefore, he cannot, as God, be considered a patron.”

Last 2002, Cebu Archbishop Ricardo Cardinal Vidal declared the Our Lady of Guadalupe de Cebu as the patroness of Cebu.
The declaration, however, brought dismay to some devotees of the Santo Niño who felt that such move stripped off the role of Santo Niño as the most important figure of the Catholic Church.

Catholic officials then explained that the move is not a desecration in itself because Catholic teaching requires that a “patron saint be a human saint who has gone to his or her heavenly reward and who prays to God on behalf of the living, rather than a divine being himself.”
Vidal, in one of his homilies, expressed that the declaration of the Our Lady of Guadalupe de Cebu as patroness of Cebu was by virtue of a pontifical decree dated May 9, 2006, issued by the Vatican’s Congregation for Divine Worship and the Discipline of the Sacraments.
Vidal also recalled how the devotion to the patroness helped stop the outbreak of cholera in Cebu City in 1902.

Last 2006, in time of the Our Lady of Guadalupe’s coronation, Rev. Fr. Carlito Pono, the parish priest of Lady of Guadalupe de Cebu Parish in barangay Guadalupe, explained that there should be no confusion between the feast of the blessed image as a parish and its celebration as the patroness of the Archdiocese of Cebu, as well as the Feast of Señor Sto. Niño.
Pono said the Catholic faithful celebrate the Feast of Our Lady of Guadalupe as the patroness of the archdiocese of Cebu every July 16, while the one being celebrated every December 12 is the feast as a parish.

Monsignor Renato C. Beltran, Jr., Papal Chaplain of the Archdiocese of Cebu, also pointed out that the installation of the Our Lady of Guadalupe as the patroness of Cebu does not make Santo Niño less of a holy figure because the Holy Child remains a titular figure in the Catholic Church.
Moreover, the homage and respect people pay to the Our Lady of Guadalupe de Cebu has been justified by series of historical accounts. The faithful recall stories that the image of the Virgin first appeared in a certain cave in Banawa, a sitio in barangay Guadalupe.
The locals then traced the increased number of people devoting their plights and prayers throughout Cebu to the Our Lady of Guadalupe until she was declared the patroness of the archdiocese of Cebu.
Based on accounts shared by some folks, the icon used to be sheltered in the convent office in barangay San Nicolas, when Guadalupe was still called Sitio Banawa under barangay San Nicolas.

According to the locals, a vision of Our Lady of Guadalupe was seen in the cave of Kalunasan, which was then part of Sitio Banawa.
Because of the testimonies of the eyewitnesses of the apparition, the parish priest of San Nicolas decided to lend the icon to the people of Banawa annually, so they could celebrate Our Lady’s feast on December 12. The icon would then be returned back to San Nicolas the Saturday after.
This ritual went on until the 1920s when locals saw that upon the procession back to San Nicolas, the icon, which was then placed in a cart carried by four men, fell and landed on the ground upright.
According to them, the image rotated in such a manner that it faced the direction where it came from.

When the parish priest learned of the incident, he allowed the icon to stay permanently in the chapel, which served as a pilgrimage site.
Because of the strong devotion of the people, a new parish in Guadalupe was established on May 1, 1933. It was subsequently declared as Archdiocesan Shrine and devotees continue to flock in the hope of curing their ailments and marital problems, among others.
The pastor of San Nicolas, Fr. Emilio Mercado, also became the concurrent and first pastor of the new parish in Guadalupe.

Today, the Our Lady of Guadalupe stands a holy representation and significant embodiment of the people’s faith tantamount to the blessings they are receiving
(Philippine Star)

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