Marlborough Santo Niño celebration

5 Blenheim Santo

The wood panelling of St Mary’s Church in Blenheim rang with music and dancing to celebrate Santo Niño, the Filipino feast celebrating the arrival of Christianity in the Philippines — which happened 500 years ago this year.

Marlborough’s Star of the Sea parish has a significant Filipino community and, on February 14, was visited by the Wellington archdiocese Filipino chaplaincy team and celebrated Santo Niño, with a special Mass and gathering afterwards.

The Santo Niño de Cebú is a title of the child Jesus, associated with a religious image of the Christ Child, widely venerated as miraculous by Filipino Catholics.

It is the oldest Christian artifact in the Philippines, originally a gift from explorer Ferdinand Magellan to Rajah Humabon and his chief consort Hara Humamay, on account of their baptism in 1521.

The dancing procession into church with the images of the Santo Niño represent how Hara Humamay danced with joy after becoming a Christian.

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