A devastating fire razed the Santo Niño de Pandacan Parish in Manila on Friday. The revered 400-year-old image of the Child Jesus was not saved.
The fire, that reached the third alarm, has damaged the church, including the pews, images of the saints, and the entire convent where the Santo Niño was being kept. (Read: The 10 Oldest Churches In The Philippines)
“Nang maganap ang sunong, ang imahen ng Mahal na poong Santo Niño ay nasa chapel sa kumbento. Napakabilis ng pagkalat ng apoy na kahit ang mga naiwan dito sa ating parokya ay walang nailigtas maliban sa kanilang suot na damit,” said Dr. Sanny de Claro, parish priest, after a mass celebrated at a tent outside the church on Sunday morning.
Despite the tragic loss, church workers have found the ciborium with the Blessed Sacrament intact—a miracle amid the loss, said Fr. de Claro. (Read: Don’t believe in miracles? These five stories will change your mind!)
“That’s the biggest miracle. While looking for the image, the sacred host was found. We were pointed to Jesus…When the ciborium was opened, the sacred host was there, mixed with some charcoal,” an emotional Fr. de Claro said during the Mass. The ciborium and the hosts are now in the safekeeping of San Fernando de Dilao Parish Church in Paco.
They also recovered one of the “tres potencias,” the burned andador, and the vestments that the Santo Niño was wearing. Some liturgical objects such as the chalices were also left unscathed and can still be used.
A Symbol of Hope
Fr. De Claro asked parishoners to remain hopeful. “We are the church. Let’s start again. Let’s rebuild the church of our faith,” he said. “Tahan na. Bumangon na, mas matatag at nagkakaisa. Huwag tayong manatili sa pagkalugmok at panlulumo.“
Even though they were not able to retrieve the physical image of the Child Jesus, Fr. De Claro encouraged the faithful to continuously honor the revered image. (Read: Four sacramentals that are known to be miraculous in the Philippines)
“We have already found our Santo Niño. He is here with us, whole. Let us receive Him during the Mass and allow Him to reign in our heart.”
The 400-year-old image of the Santo Niño de Pandacan is said to be miraculous and that it supposedly healed the sick and protected the area from disasters. It was carved out of dark wood similar to the dark Mexican wood of the images of the Black Nazarene of Quiapo and the image of Our Lady of Peace and Good Voyage in Antipolo. It was brought to the Philippines by the Spaniards during the galleon trade from Acapulco, Mexico.