CEBU CITY (PNA) – Because of ongoing threat posed by the coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19), Augustinian friars at the Basilica Minore del Sto. Niño de Cebu here have canceled the major religious activities supposed to be held in connection with the Fiesta Señor in January 2021.

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The 455-year-old Basilica Minore del Sto. Niño de Cebu in Cebu City. The Augustinian Friars overseeing the Basilica on Monday (Nov. 9, 2020) announced that major religious activities in relation to the Sto. Niño Fiesta 202 are canceled due to the ongoing Covid-19 threat. (PNA photo by John Rey Saavedra/ MANILA BULLETIN)

Friars of the Order of St. Augustine (OSA), headed by Fr. Pacifico Nohara Jr., briefed the media covering the Cebu City Hall on Monday with regard the changes in the festivity next year.

Nohara said that, instead of holding activities that would draw huge crowds of devotees, they tweaked next year’s Fiesta Señor schedules to focus on Eucharistic celebrations at the Sto. Niño Pilgrim Center inside the compound of the 455-year-old Basilica.

Among the crowd-drawing activities that were canceled was the Penitential Walk with Jesus.

The opening ritual walk from Fuente Osmeña to the Basilica drew an estimated crowd of 300,000 in January this year.

The friars also canceled the Penitential Walk with Mary on the Thursday before the day of the fiesta, as well as the annual Traslacion of the image of the Sto, Niño from the Basilica in the capital city to Mandaue City’s St. Joseph Parish and to the Virgen de la Regla National Shrine in Lapu-Lapu City.

Traslacion paves the way for the annual conduct of the fluvial procession of the miraculous image of the Child Jesus at the Mactan Channel which is followed by another crowd-drawing ritual on the vespers of the fiesta – the Solemn Foot Procession.

Nohara said the nine-day Novena Masses will start on January 8.

“Atong gitangtang ang besperas (We deleted the vesper celebration) on the ninth day because we merged the activities on the ninth day novena on January 16,” he said.

The friars presented the new schedule of novena masses until the fiesta mass on January 17 to ensure the intervals would help in controlling the number of devotees inside the Basilica compound to avoid COVID-19 transmission.

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