Southern Leyte town commemorates 1st Holy Mass at Limasawa

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LIMASAWA, Southern Leyte — Some 3,000 Catholics attended the 498th anniversary of the historic first mass held on the island town of Limasawa on Sunday.

Apostolic Nuncio to the Philippines, Most Rev. Gabriele Giordano Caccia headed the celebration along with high-ranking church officials in the Visayas led by Cebu Archbishop Jose Palma, Palo (Leyte) Archbishop John Du, and Maasin City Bishop Precioso Cantillas.

The image of the Sto. Niño de Cebu was also brought to Limasawa as part of the yearly commemoration of the first mass that marked the birth of Christianity in the country.

“You receive the image of the Sto. Niño and you also receive the Christian faith. As you welcome the bishops, me, and the people coming here, you also welcome God. You welcome Him in your life, you are dancing for him, praying, praising for this beautiful land, sea, nature, and family life,” Caccia said during the sundown ceremony in Limasawa Island.

“There are too many reasons to be grateful and if we welcome God in our life, we are a better person, we learn to love our neighbors, to forgive and ask for forgiveness,” he added.

The ceremony featured 500 floating lanterns made of coconut husks released to the sea, which represented 500 years of Christian faith in the country.

The commemorative mass was attended by top government officials headed by Governor Damian Mercado, Rep. Roger Mercado, Limasawa Mayor Melchor Petracorta, Department of Tourism Regional Director Karina Rosa Tiopes, priests, and church workers.

“Almost 500 years ago, they just said the mass with few people. It was like a seed put in the soil. Now, that seed has become a big tree,” Caccia said.

“The presence of the Church and the presence of Christianity have shaped this country and the entire world,” he added.

Caccia said the celebration of the first Catholic mass in Limasawa is not only a celebration of the Catholic faith but also a celebration of embracing and making Jesus Christ part of the lives of Filipinos.

“Thanks to the missionary work, the spreading of good news that arrived. It also makes us responsible for joy because we already know the true name and true identity of God. We are called to share to the people His good news,” he added.

Aside from the mass, there was also a presentation of Sinugdan Festival, the re-enactment of the arrival of Ferdinand Magellan’s fleet in Limasawa.

Limasawa Island, the smallest town in Southern Leyte province, is touted to be the site of the first Catholic mass in Asia, officiated on Easter Sunday on March 31, 1521 by Father Pedro de Valderrama under the fleet of Ferdinand Magellan. (PNA)

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