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Basilica del Santo Niño

Coordinates: 10°17′38″N 123°54′5″E / 10.29389°N 123.90139°E / 10.29389; 123.90139
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Santo Niño Basilica
  • Basilica Minore del Santo Niño de Cebu
  • Minor Basilica of the Holy Child of Cebu
The Mother and Head of all Churches in the Philippines[a]
The facade of the church with the Pilgrim Center
Santo Niño Basilica is located in Metro Cebu
Santo Niño Basilica
Santo Niño Basilica
Location in Metro Cebu
Santo Niño Basilica is located in Cebu, Philippines
Santo Niño Basilica
Santo Niño Basilica
Location in Cebu
Santo Niño Basilica is located in Visayas
Santo Niño Basilica
Santo Niño Basilica
Location in the Visayas
Santo Niño Basilica is located in Philippines
Santo Niño Basilica
Santo Niño Basilica
Location in the Philippines
10°17′38″N 123°54′5″E / 10.29389°N 123.90139°E / 10.29389; 123.90139
LocationCebu City
Language(s)Cebuano, English
DenominationRoman Catholic
Religious orderOrder of St. Augustine
WebsiteBasilica del Santo Niño
Former name(s)Church and Convent of Saint Augustine[2]
StatusMinor Basilica
FoundedApril 28, 1565; 459 years ago (1565-04-28)
Founder(s)Fray Andres de Urdaneta, O.S.A.
Fray Diego de Herrera, O.S.A.
DedicationSanto Niño de Cebú
DedicatedFebruary 28, 1965; 59 years ago (1965-02-28)
Earlier dedicationJanuary 16, 1740; 284 years ago (1740-01-16)[3]
EventsSinulog (Third Sunday of January)
Kaplag (April 28)[4]
Functional statusActive
Heritage designation
  • August 1, 1973
  • April 14, 2021
Architect(s)Fray Juan de Albarran, O.S.A.
Architectural typeCruciform church and convent
StyleEarthquake Baroque
Years built
  • c. 1565 (dst. 1566)
  • 1605–1626 (dst. 1628)
  • c. 1628 (later stopped)
  • 1735–1740
GroundbreakingFebruary 24, 1735; 289 years ago (1735-02-24)[3]
CompletedJanuary 16, 1740; 284 years ago (1740-01-16)[3]
Length62.3 m (204 ft)[7]
Width17.7 m (58 ft)[7]
Width across transepts31.2 m (102 ft)[7]
Other dimensionsFaçade facing southwest
Number of towers1
Bells7 (6)
DeaneryMost Holy Rosary[8]
PriorRev. Fr. Danilo M. Carido, O.S.A.
RectorRev. Fr. Andres D. Rivera Jr., O.S.A.
National Historical Landmarks
Official nameChurch and Convent of Santo Niño
TypeHouse of Worship
DesignatedAugust 1, 1973 (1973-08-01)
RegionCentral Visayas
Legal BasisPresidential Decree No. 260, s. 1973
Marker Date1941
Official nameBasilica Minore del Santo Niño de Cebu
DesignatedApril 14, 2021 (2021-04-14)
RegionCentral Visayas

The Basílica Minore del Santo Niño de Cebú, alternatively known as the Minor Basilica of the Holy Child and simply the Santo Niño Basilica, is a minor basilica in Cebu City in the Philippines that was founded in 1565 by Fray Andrés de Urdaneta and Fray Diego de Herrera. It is the oldest Roman Catholic church in the country, allegedly built on the spot where the image of the Santo Niño de Cebú was found during the expedition of Miguel López de Legazpi.

This image of the Child Jesus is the same presented by Ferdinand Magellan to the chief consort of Rajah Humabon on the occasion of their royal Baptism to Roman Catholicism on April 14, 1521. The image was found by a soldier named Juan de Camuz forty years later, preserved in a wooden box, after Legazpi had razed a local village.[2] When Pope Paul VI made the church a basilica in 1965, he declared it to be "the symbol of the birth and growth of Christianity in the Philippines."[9]

The present building was completed in 1740 and was designated by the Holy See as the "Mother and Head of all Churches in the Philippines".[1] It is under the jurisdiction of the Archdiocese of Cebu and the Augustinian Province of Santo Niño de Cebu.


The Basilica in 1904

The church of the Holy Child was founded by Fray Andrés de Urdaneta, O.S.A. on April 28, 1565, the day when the image of the Holy Child was found in a partially burned hut. More than a week passed after the rediscovery of the image on May 8, 1565, Miguel Lopez de Legazpi initiated the founding of the first Spanish settlement in the Philippines. On the spot of the house where the image of the Santo Niño was found, the monastery of the Holy Name of Jesus was constructed.

The first church to be built on the site where the image of the Holy Child was found was burned down on November 1, 1566. It was said to be built by Fr. Diego de Herrera using wood and nipa. Fray Pedro Torres, O.S.A. started the construction of a new church in 1605. It was finished in 1626 but was again burned in March 1628. Fray Juan Medina, O.S.A.[10] started the construction of another church that year, using stone and bricks, a great innovation at that time. Construction was stopped because the structure was found to be defective.

Present church

Church and convent PHC historical marker installed in 1941

On February 24, 1735, Father Provincial Bergaño, Governor-General Fernando Valdes, Bishop Manuel Antonio Decio y Ocampo of Cebu and Fray Juan de Albarran, O.S.A. started the foundations of the present church, using stone. Since the friars did not have the means to complete the church, they enlisted the help of the parishioners of Opon and San Nicolas to contribute materials, while the people of Talisay contributed labor. The lack of chief craftsmen and officers forced Fray Albarran to acquire some knowledge of architecture. On January 16, 1740, the present church was completed,[3] and the miraculous image was enthroned in the new church.

In 1789, the church underwent a renovation. In 1889, Fray Mateo Diez, O.S.A. did another renovation. The original features of the church have been retained except for the windows which he added. In 1965, both the church and convent underwent a bigger restoration on the occasion of the fourth centennial of the Christianization of the country. The facelifting was made with utmost respect for the historical character of the old structure.[11]

The basilica, which was once known as San Agustin Church, was rededicated by Cardinal Julio Rosales, then-Archbishop of Cebu, on February 28, 1965.[12]

On April 1, 1965,[13] Ildebrando Cardinal Antoniutti, Papal Legate to the Philippines, conferred the church the honorific title of Minor Basilica Basílica Minore upon the authority of Pope Paul VI. As a Minor Basilica, it is given precedence over other churches and other privileges.[1] Philippine President Ferdinand E. Marcos also declared it a National Landmark. Paul VI also declared the basilica to be "the symbol of the birth and growth of Christianity in the Philippines."[9] In his pontificate, the ecclesiastical document Ut Clarificetur designated the basilica as the "Mother and Head of all Churches in the Philippines" (Mater et Caput... Omnium Ecclesiarum Insularum Philippinarum).[1]

The Basilica del Santo Niño remains under the care of the Augustinian Friars.

2013 earthquake and restoration

The church after the 2013 Bohol earthquake

On October 15, 2013, a 7.2-magnitude earthquake shook Bohol; its force felt throughout the Visayas.[14] It caused more than 220 casualties, and damages to buildings, particularly historical landmarks and churches in Bohol.[15][16] In Cebu City, the earthquake destroyed most of the Basilica's belfry and façade; some walls and frescoes were cracked.[17]

All Masses were subsequently transferred to the Pilgrim Center located adjacent to the basilica. On December 24, 2014, Christmas Eve, the basilica reopened while repairs were being done to the belfry and the main central doors.[18][19]

The restoration of the basilica was one of the 16 projects facilitated by National Historical Commission of the Philippines in Cebu province in 2015.[20] Restoration works began in July.[21]

Prior to restoration, the rubbles from the collapsed belfry were subjected to laboratory tests to analyze their composition to ensure that the new building materials will be compatible to the old and existing structure. During restoration, mechanical and chemical cleaning of the exterior walls were performed. Moreover, lime water were injected into the rubble core to make it stronger.[20] The bell tower was fully restored in October 2016.[22]

Heritage designations


The Church and Convent of Santo Niño was declared a National Historical Landmark on August 1, 1973.[6]

On April 14, 2021, on the 500th anniversary of the first Baptism in the Philippines, the National Museum of the Philippines collectively declared the Church and Convent of Santo Niño and the Magellan's Cross Pavilion as National Cultural Treasures, as part of the quincentennial commemorations in the country.[23]

Church complex


Pilgrim Center

Pilgrim Center

The devotees kept increasing over the years and could easily fill the Basilica. To accommodate this growing number of devotees who come to hear mass in the Basilica, a pilgrim center was built within the church compound opposite of the Basilica.

Completed in September 1990, this open-air structure can accommodate 3,500 people. The basement of the Pilgrim's Center houses the Basilica Del Sto. Niño Museum.[2]



The museum was first established in 1965 by Fr. Ambrosio Galindez, O.S.A. for the purpose of the commemoration of the Fourth Centennial of the Christianization of the Philippines. It was then located at a certain room in the convent. Old church documents dating back to the 17th century, antique church furniture, antique church things (i.e. Chalice, Altar Table, Thurible, etc.), and antique vestments of the priests are in display. The old vestments of the Sto. Niño de Cebu dating back to the 17th century are also in display. The relics and statues of the different saints are also in exhibit. The replicas of the Sto. Niño used in different pilgrimages in the Philippines and abroad are displayed. Some donated jewelleries and gift toys to the Sto. Niño are in display also.

The Basilica del Sto. Niño Museum is currently located at the basement of the Pilgrim Center.

Basilica del Santo Niño Library


Originally for exclusive use by the friars, in 2000, the church library was opened to all serious nonclerical researchers. Its collection covers religious subjects and non-religious disciplines including history, science, philosophy, Filipiniana, and periodicals.[2]



The Basílica Minore del Santo Niño de Cebu Basilica Complex is located in a 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 on Osmeña Boulevard. Two blocks north of the basilica is the Cebu Metropolitan Cathedral, the seat of the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Cebu.

Devotion to the Holy Child

A woman praying in front of the image of the Holy Child

Devotion to the Santo Niño de Cebú is popular among Roman Catholics in Cebu, as well as nationwide. Devotees flock to the basilica to fall in line (Cebuano: linya sa hawok), for even a few hours, to see the image enshrined in a glass case. After which, some would go to the church and attend Mass. Others would go to the dagkutanan (candle area) to light their candles, while some would avail prayers to the Holy Child. The devotion to the Holy Child falls every Friday.[24]

The Sinulog Festival is celebrated on the third Sunday of January and is marked with processions and festivities. Meanwhile, every April 28, the Kaplag ("discovery") is held, commemorating the founding and discovery of the image.[4] Novena Masses are held before their respective festivities.

Holy Masses celebrated on Fridays, Sundays, and other Religious Festivities are held at the Pilgrim Center outside of the basilica.

Aside from the devotion in Cebu, the Augustinian friars spread the devotion of the Holy Child to other places, which led to the establishment of other churches dedicated to the Holy Child in Tondo and Pandacan in Manila, Tacloban, and Arevalo in Iloilo City.[24]


See also


Other Santo Niño churches and titles



  1. ^ It is one of two claimants of the title of mother church in the country which was canonically declared as such by Pope Paul VI in 1965,[1] the other being the Manila Cathedral.


  1. ^ a b c d "Ut clarificetur, Litterae Apostlicae, Titulus ac privilegia Basilicae Minoris ecclesiae Sanctissimo Nomini Iesu Caebuae dicatae conferuntur, d. 1 m. Aprilis a. 1965, Paulus PP. VI". Archived from the original on March 2, 2013. Retrieved September 10, 2014.
  2. ^ a b c d e "Basilica Complex". Basilica del Santo Niño. Retrieved on January 30, 2013.
  3. ^ a b c d "Basilica History". Basilica del Santo Niño. Retrieved May 4, 2023.
  4. ^ a b "April 28 is Kaplag day". SunStar. April 24, 2015. Retrieved April 28, 2023.
  5. ^ "Nat'l Museum to declare Cebu basilica, Sto. Niño image as 'nat'l cultural treasures'". February 25, 2021.
  6. ^ a b Erram, Morexette Marie B. (April 15, 2021). "Basilica, image of Snr. Sto. Niño declared as National Cultural Treasures". Cebu Daily News.
  7. ^ a b c Measured using Google Earth.
  8. ^ "Archdiocese of Cebu". Catholink. Retrieved April 28, 2023.
  9. ^ a b "Four hundredth Anniversary of the evangelization of the Philippines". Archived from the original on March 3, 2013. Retrieved July 18, 2014.
  10. ^ "Administration". Basilica del Santo Niño. Retrieved on January 30, 2013.
  11. ^ "About the Basilica"
  12. ^ de Dios, Kristin; Codis, Denise Mae (February 29, 2024). "Sto. Niño de Cebu Basilica Celebrates 59 Years". BMSN Media Centre. Retrieved May 9, 2024.
  13. ^ "Development of the Santo Niño devotion". Basilica del Santo Niño. Retrieved May 4, 2023.
  14. ^ "M 7.1 - 4 km SE of Sagbayan, Philippines".
  15. ^ "NDRRMC Update: SitRep No. 35 re Effects of Magnitude 7.2 Sagbayan, Bohol Earthquake" (PDF). December 14, 2013. Archived from the original on December 14, 2013. Retrieved February 18, 2023.{{cite web}}: CS1 maint: bot: original URL status unknown (link)
  16. ^ LUCES, KIM. "From treasure to rubble: Heritage churches before and after the Bohol quake". Retrieved February 18, 2023.
  17. ^ Video.
  18. ^ Mayol, Ador Vincent S. (January 3, 2015). "Sto. Niño Basilica reopens; interior 'safe' for public worship". Cebu Daily News. Retrieved April 17, 2024.
  19. ^ Sabalo, Wenilyn; Denolang, Kate F.; Bustamante, Arnold (January 10, 2015). "The Sto. Niño Pilgrim Center". SunStar. Retrieved April 17, 2024.
  20. ^ a b Miasco, May (July 31, 2016). "Basilica Minore del Santo Niño: Restoring a historical landmark". The Philippine Star. Retrieved September 9, 2021.
  21. ^ Mayol, Ador Vincent S. (October 15, 2015). "Restoration works on Sto. Niño church to finish before IEC". Cebu Daily News. Retrieved April 17, 2024.
  22. ^ "Sto. Niño Basilica to remember 7.2 tremor". Philippine Daily Inquirer. October 13, 2016. Retrieved February 18, 2023.
  23. ^ "Basilica church, Magellan's Cross pavilion are national cultural treasures, not Sto. Niño statue". Philippine Daily Inquirer. April 15, 2021. Retrieved July 9, 2021.
  24. ^ a b Fr. Ericson M. Borre, OSA (January 4, 2021). "The Devotion of the Santo Niño in the Philippines". Retrieved April 28, 2023.