Representatives from Broome’s Filipino community brought their faith, music and culture to life recently to honour Santo Nino – a celebrated religious statue of the Child Jesus.
Santo Nino de Cebu, which means Holy Child of Cebu, is believed to be the oldest religious image in the Philippines and is venerated by many Filipino Catholics.
The Holy Child of Cebu has been held in the Basilica Minore del Santo Nino in the Philippines since 1529.
Each year, Santo Nino is celebrated in Catholic churches every third Sunday of January with a special mass and a traditional Filipino dance.
On January 20, Broome’s Our Lady Queen of Peace Cathedral was adorned with decorations to commemorate the feast, as members of the Filipino community led the choir service.
The Santo Nino statue measures around 30cm tall, dressed in distinctive red and gold garments. The infant child Jesus is depicted wearing a crown and holding a sceptre. The image is replicated in many homes and is one of the most recognisable and worshipped cultural icons in the Philippines.
Father Matt Digges of the Broome Catholic Diocese said Santo Nino was a wonderful opportunity for Filipino people to share their faith with the broader community.
The Filipino community has been a part of Broome’s multi-cultural history since the early days when Broome was a frontier town. In 1895, when Father Nicholas Emo became the first resident priest in Broome, his first parishioners and greatest supporters were the Filipino community.
Together, they built a church on Kennedy Hill and an orphanage near the port, forming the backbone of the small Catholic parish, despite opposition from many.