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The Mass coincides with one of the country’s oldest feast of Santo Nino so the liturgy used was in celebration of that feast founded on an image Portuguese explorer Ferdinand Magellan is said to have given to a native queen as baptismal gift when he led a Spanish expedition to the country in 1521.  

Catholic Bishops’ Conference of the Philippines Socrates Villegas had invited Santo Nino devotees to bring their statues and join the traditional street prayer-dance at the pope’s mass.  Out came the images in all sizes and designs. A couple even dressed up in velvet and gold in Santo Nino inspired costume. 

Other women in green, yellow, and orange gowns swayed in the rhythm of the Sinulog street dance of Santo Nino devotees raising their images occasionally.