Quincentennial of 1st mass in PH celebrated on Limasawa Island

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Metro Manila (CNN Philippines, April 1) — A holy mass and a fluvial parade highlighted the commemoration of the 500th anniversary of the first documented mass in the Philippines on the Limasawa Island in Southern Leyte on Wednesday.

The mass was officiated by Most Rev. Precioso D. Cantillas, SBD, DD, Bishop of Maasin, Leyte, and was attended by officials headed by Southern Leyte Governor Damian Mercado, Undersecretary Anthony Gonzales of the Office of the Presidential Assistant for the Visayas, and members of the clergy.

Also present were pilgrims and devotees from different provinces, provincial officials, mayors, and other representatives from various agencies.

According to a report from the Philippine National Police, all those who attended complied with public health restrictions.

A fluvial procession of the pilgrim image of Santo Niño De Cebu from Maasin to Barangay Magallanes in Limasawa also marked the event.

Officials, meanwhile, led the unveiling of the historical marker of the Municipality of Limasawa by the National Historical Commission of the Philippines.

On Tuesday, the Archdiocese of Cebu said it is gearing up for the year-long celebration of the 500 years of Christianity in the country, which will start on Easter Sunday, April 4. It will be held simultaneously with the opening of the "Holy Doors" in 13 historic churches around Cebu.

The main celebration, however, is slated for April 14 with the reenactment of the first Christian Baptism that took place in Cebu some 500 years ago. This was when the queen of Cebu, Hara Humamay, was baptized as Juana in 1521 and was presented with an image of the Santo Niño as a baptismal gift.

The reenactment will be held at the Plaza Sugbo located in between the Cebu City Hall and the Basilica Minore del Santo Nino. This is where the Magellan's Cross Shrine is situated, the historic religious icon planted by explorer Ferdinand Magellan upon arrival in Cebu in April 1521.

The Papal Nuncio to the Philippines, Archbishop Charles John Brown, is expected to attend the mass, along with several other bishops from various dioceses across the country

A limited number of people will be allowed at the venues due to restrictions brought about by the COVID-19 pandemic.

CNN Philippines correspondent Dale Israel contributed to this report.