Six months after the Santo Niño de Pandacan Parish Church in Manila was destroyed by a fire, a new image carved from the church’s wooden beams has replaced the venerated image of the Child Jesus and now serves as a symbol of hope for those seeking a respite from trying times.
In an online broadcast, Fr. Gilbert Kabigting, parochial vicar of the Santo Niño de Pandacan Church, said the new image inspired residents to remain hopeful that they would be able to overcome the COVID-19 pandemic.
“Amid the tragedy that we faced and the pandemic, the smile of the new image of Santo Niño encourages us to never lose hope, and tells us that all our worries and fears will come to an end,” he said during the Feast of the Santo Niño on Sunday.
The church was severely damaged by the July 10, 2020, fire, which also destroyed many antique images. Investigators were unable to locate the 400-year-old Santo Niño image, but found its globe and scepter, as well as its “andador,” or support.
The new image of the Child Jesus was presented to the Pandacan church on Saturday night after it was blessed by Manila Auxiliary Bishop Broderick Pabillo. It had the original image’s fingers that were burned in the fire placed on its chest.
The original image dates back to the 18th century, when the Pandacan church was also established.
On Sunday, the usual festivities were replaced with the celebration of Mass at the Santo Niño de Pandacan Parish Church and the Santo Niño de Tondo Parish Church.
The Feast of the Santo Niño is the second Catholic celebration in the country affected by the pandemic, after the Feast of the Black Nazarene on Jan. 9.