A 400-year old image of the Child Jesus was lost in the fire that gutted the Santo Niño de Pandacan parish church in Manila on Friday, July 10.
Parish priest Sanny de Claro said the “Tres Potencias,” or “three powers,” of the image were found buried in ash with half of it already melted.
The “Tres Potencias” include the andador, which supports the image, the Globe, which the Child Jesus holds, and the Cross. The vestment of the image was also found burned.
The wooden image, which dates back to the 17th century, was reportedly found by a group of children playing at the site where the church was eventually built.
Father De Claro said the remains of the relics will be made available to the public soon.
The priest also announced that Blessed Sacrament and the Sacred Host were also found and recovered under the ashes. Other religious objects were also saved from the fire.
“This is a big miracle. We are looking for the image, we found the Sacred Host. We were pointed to Jesus,” said Father De Claro.
During Mass outside the burned church, the priest urged the faithful not to despair. “Let us not remain in sadness and despair. The Lord is with us,” he said.
“We have already found our Santo Niño. He is here with us, whole. We should accept Him during Mass and allow Him to live in our hearts,” said the priest during Mass.
“Let us start again and build the marker of our faith. Stop crying. Let us get up, stronger and united. Let us not remain depressed,” he said.
Fire broke out at the Sto. Niño Parish church, home of the image of the Child Jesus, in Manila’s Pandacan district past one o’clock in the afternoon on Friday.
Although there were no reported casualties, the church’s altar collapsed, pews were burned, and religious images were destroyed.
The first stone church in Pandacan was built in 1732 by Father Francisco del Rosario. The church would take 30 years to complete.
The image of the Child of Jesus was enshrined in the church and its feast is traditionally celebrated on the third Sunday of January.
According to legend, the image of the Santo Niño was recovered from a well near the church and some say the water from the well can cause miraculous healing.
The well has long been sealed due to pollutants, but a shrine stands on what was once the well.
The original church, completed in 1760, was twice destroyed by earthquakes. A modern structure was built on the ruins, including a parish school which stands on what used to be a cemetery.
The district of Pandacan in Manila was established as a community in 1574 when Franciscan priests set up their first mission house in the area.
Pandacan was originally part of the parish of Sampaloc, also in Manila, but was established as a separate parish in 1712.
The area used to be a farming community, producing small quantities of rice and sugar that were sold to the Spanish enclave in the old walled city of Intramuros.
The old Pandacan used to produce bricks and tiles and colorful cotton laces. The district also produced shoes and small boats.
In the 19th century, Pandacan was described as “Little Venice” and “Little Italy” because of its numerous canals and estuaries that lead to the Pasig River.
People would leisurely row through the estuaries in late afternoons as described by Filipino writer Francisco Balagtas. Pandacan was known to be home to balladeers and musicians in the early times.
Late in the Spanish era and into the American period, Pandacan was developed into an industrial estate where manufacturing companies were built.
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