Today, April 14, marks the 500th anniversary of the first Christian baptism in the Philippines. To celebrate the occasion in advance, Cardinal Luis Antonio Tagle presided over a Thanksgiving Mass on Sunday and baptized children at the Basilica di Santa Maria Maggiore in Rome, Italy.
During the April 12 Mass, the prefect of the Congregation for the Evangelization of Peoples administered the sacrament of baptism on two Filipino toddlers— a boy and a girl. He then reminded parents of the deeper meaning of the sacrament, “which is at times reduced to custom.”
In his homily, Tagle said that baptism is the beginning of a Christian child’s journey of faith. (Read: An Expert’s Tip to Instilling Faith in Young Children)
“To the parents of the baptized, raise your children in proper upbringing, food, education, good manners, and faith,” he said. “Train them to unite in prayer and the life of the Christian community.”
Beyond Material Things
According to Tagle, baptism is more than just the gifts or the “party” that is usually held after the sacrament. (Read: This Christmas, Know That It’s Okay to Not Give Gifts to Your Inaanak)
He lamented how some Filipino families would focus on the material things, saying that being godparents is more than just giving “pakimkim” (cash gifts) to godchildren.
“You don’t become a good godfather and godmother with such a gift… The depth of faith is not measured by the size of celebration,” said Tagle.
“The role of godparents is to help the parents in raising their children in faith,” he added.
500 Years of Christianity
The Sunday Mass was part of the celebrations for the 500 Years of Christianity in the Philippines. (LOOK: Filipinos in Spain Celebrate 500 Years of PH Christianity)
Due to health protocols, the Filipino chaplaincy in Rome has limited the number of guests who were allowed to physically attend the Mass inside the basilica.
The celebration was live-streamed on Facebook, and a live telecast was shown in the Basilica di Santa Pudenziana, the national church of Filipinos in Rome.