Basilica del Santo Niño

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Minor Basilica of the Holy Child
Basílica Menor del Santo Niño de Cebú
The Basílica Menor del Santo Niño is the Mother and Head of All Churches in the Philippines.
Minor Basilica of the Holy Child is located in Philippines
Minor Basilica of the Holy Child
Minor Basilica of the Holy Child
Location in the Philippines
10°17′38″N 123°54′5″E / 10.29389°N 123.90139°E / 10.29389; 123.90139
Location Cebu City
Country Philippines
Denomination Roman Catholic
Website Official website
Former name(s) Church and Convent of Saint Augustine[1]
Founded April 28, 1565 (1565-04-28)
Founder(s) Rev. Andres de Urdaneta
Consecrated 1739[1] - 1740[2]
Relics held Santo Niño de Cebú
Status Basilica
Functional status Active (partially damaged due to earthquake)
Heritage designation National Historical Landmark
Designated 1941
Architect(s) Rev. Juan de Albarran
Architectural type Church and convent
Style Earthquake Baroque
Groundbreaking 1735
Completed 1739-1740
Number of domes None
Materials Stone[1]
Province Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Cebu
Archbishop Jose Serofia Palma
Rector Rev. Fr. Jonas M. Mejares, O.S.A.
Priest in charge Rev. Fr. Rodolfo Bugna, O.S.A.

The Minor Basilica of the Holy Child (Spanish: Basílica Menor del Santo Niño; Italian: Basilica Minore del Santo Bambino), commonly known as Santo Niño Church, is a minor basilica in Cebu City in the Philippines that was founded in the 1565. It is the oldest Roman Catholic church established in the country on the spot where the image of the Santo Niño de Cebú, a statue depicting the Child Jesus was found in 1565 by Spanish explorers led by Miguel Lopez de Legazpi. The Holy See calls the temple the "Mother and Head of all Churches in the Philippines" (mater et caput... omnium ecclesiarum Insularum Philippinarum).[3] The image is the same statue given by Ferdinand Magellan to the wife of Rajah Humabon as a gift over forty years after Humabon's baptism to Christianity on April 14, 1521. It was found by a soldier preserved in a burnt wooden box after Legazpi razed the village of hostile natives.[1] When Blessed Pope Paul Vi elevated the Church to the dignity of Basilica in 1965, he named the temple "the symbol of the birth and growth of Christianity in the Philippines."[4]

The present building, which was completed from 1739-1740, has been the sanctuary of the oldest religious image in the country ever since. A full schedule of masses from 5:00 am to 12:00 midnight are held every Friday at the basilica for devotees of the Holy Child Jesus and followers of novena.[5]


Previous churches[edit]

The church of the Holy Child was founded by an Augustinian priest, Rev Andrés de Urdaneta on April 28, 1565. The first church and convent were built out of earth, hard wood and nipa. Both structures burned down of November 1, 1566. In 1605, Rev. Pedro Torres started the construction of its replacement. The second church was completed in 1626, but it was also destroyed by fire in March of 1628. It was rebuilt immediately under the administration of Rev. Juan de Medina.[6] This time it was built using stone and bricks, but the construction was stopped because of problems with the integrity of the bricks being used.[1]

Present church[edit]

Fernando Valdés y Tamon, the Spanish governor of the Philippines, ordered the church in 1735 to be constructed of hard stone, which was built in the same spot were the previous churches stood. Father Provincial Bergaño, Governor-General Fernando Valdes, Bishop Manuel Antonio Decio y Ocampo of Cebu and Rev. Juan de Albarran, Prior of the Santo Niño, started the foundations of the church on 29 February 1735.[1] The construction was designed and led by Rev. Juan de Albarran, and it was completed in 1739 or 1740.[2] The convent and library were later added and completed in 1764.

In 1965, during the fourth centenary of the Christianization of the Philippines, Pope Paul VI elevated the church to the rank of minor basilica. The basilica remains under the care of the Order of St. Augustine.

Pilgrim Center[edit]

The Pilgrim Center of the Basilica

The masses on Fridays were moved to the newly constructed Pilgrim Center in September 1990 to accommodate more devotees. The open-air theater-like structure is located in the Basilica Complex right in front of the basilica. It was built to accommodate about 3,500 visitors at a time for Fridays and during other large festivities.[1]

2013 Bohol earthquake[edit]

Main article: 2013 Bohol earthquake

On October 15, 2013, at approximately 8:00am GMT+8, a 7.2-magnitude earthquake shook Tagbilaran, Bohol, its force felt throughout the Visayas. It caused more than 120 casualties, millions worth in destroyed property and major damage to many historical landmarks and churches, including the Basilica. The earthquake destroyed most of the belfry and facade; some walls and frescoes were cracked.

It was deemed safe to celebrate mass in the Basilica, but was not allowed for the following months as architects were still investigating the possibility of the detached stones being used in the restoration of the structure; it has been restored since. The Philippine Historical Association stated that the Basilica needs to be repaired after the earthquake as this was the first and oldest church in the Philippines. A video of the collapse can be seen here.


A museum inside the Basilica complex showcases the history of Christianity in Cebu. Antique relics 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 convent. Several toys may also be seen, said to be presents from devotees to the Child Jesus, as well as a large Santo Niño rosary composed of 15 beads.

Basilica del Santo Niño Library[edit]

Originally for exclusive use by the friars, in the year 2000, the church library was opened to all serious nonclerical researchers. Its collection is not only confined to religious subjects but also to other non-religious disciplines like history, science, philosophy, Filipiniana, periodicals and others.[1]


The Church and Convent of Santo Niño was declared a National Historical Landmark in 1941.[2]


The Basilica Minore del Santo Niño de Cebu Basilica Complex is located in city block bordered by Osmeña Boulevard, D. Jakosalem St, P. Burgos St. and the Plaza Sugbo where the Magellan's Cross is located. The main entrance is along Osmeña Boulevard. Two blocks north of the basilica is the Cebu Metropolitan Cathedral, the seat of the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Cebu.



  1. ^ a b c d e f g h "Basilica Complex". Basilica del Santo Niño. Retrieved on 2013-01-30.
  2. ^ a b c "Church and Convent of Santo Niño". National Registry of Historic Sites and Structures of the Philippines.Retrieved on 2013-01-31.
  3. ^
  4. ^
  5. ^ "Home". Basilica del Santo Niño. Retrieved on 2013-01-30.
  6. ^ "Administration". Basilica del Santo Niño. Retrieved on 2013-01-30.

External links[edit]