Pit Senior!

Pit Senior! “Pit” is a shortened word for “Sangpit,” which means “call.” Thus, you are calling to Senior Santo Niño when you say Pit Senior!

This past weekend many Filipinos especially Visayans like myself were celebrating the Feast Day of Santo Niño. For those not familiar with Philippine traditions, Santo Niño is representation of the child Jesus. This figure of the child Jesus is very well known throughout Philippines. For centuries the Santo Niño served as the patron saint of Cebú and continues to be celebrated at the Sinulog, the primary festival of Cebú. The Holy See has approved special liturgical texts for use during the local Feast of the Santo Niño in the Philippines, which is set on the third Sunday of January.

History

In 1521, Ferdinand Magellan arrived in Cebú during his voyage to find a westward route to the Indies.  The Portuguese explorer was able to persuade the Rajah(King) Humabon of Cebú and his wife Hara Amihan to pledge their allegiance with Spain. This pledge led the Rajah and his wife to be baptized into the Catholic faith and taking the Christian names Carlos and Juana.  Magellan gave Juana the Santo Niño as a symbol of the alliance.  Magellan was later killed by the Philippine hero Lapu Lapu and his tribe in Mactan Island.

There was another Spanish expedition in 1565 led by Miguel Lopez de Legazpi.  After the defeat of Rajah Tupas (the ruler of Cebú and nephew of Rajah Humabon) Legazpi’s soldiers found an image of the child Jesus.  This image was similar to the statue that Legazpi believed was given by Magellan more than 40 years earlier. A church was built on the spot where the image was found. This church was elevated to the rank of a basilica during the 1965 celebration of the 4th centennial of the Christianization of the Philippines. According to The Black Santo Niño de Cebu, pre-World War II photos show a black Sto. Niño de Cebú. The Flanders creation Legazpi described should logically have Caucasian features. Adding to the mystery are local legends of a black Niño.

Additional Sources:
The Black Santo Niño de Cebu
Santo Niño Online

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