Among all the thousands of islands, Limasawa is considered as the cradle of Christianity in the country and even in the entire Asia for it was in this place where the First Mass was held on March 31, 1521 and the cross was planted by explorer Ferdinand Magellan when he and his companions on board of a Spanish Fleet arrived on the Philippine soil.
Though the town is the smallest and the poorest in Southern Leyte province classified as the sixth class municipality with P15 million income annually, yet the 6,000 residents considered themselves as the most blessed as it was the sight of the First Mass officiated by Fr. Pedro de Valderrama, the chaplain of the fleet commandeered by Magellan held on the western side of the island then called Mazaua.
Magellan’s cross known then as Barangay Triana was burned in 1565 in protest of the arrival of the Spaniards led by Miguel Lopez de Legazpi, said Rolando Borrinaga, local historian.
Limasawa will host the 500 years of Christianity’s celebration or quincentenary on March 31 to be led by Archbishop Charles John Brown, Apostolic Nuncio to the Philippines, to represent Pope Francis at the Magellan Shrine in Barangay Magallanes here.
Carl Caesar Rimando, Department of the Interior and Local Government director for Eastern Visayas, will represent President Duterte on this occasion.
Due to the surge of Covid-19, the number of people, who are allowed to attend the Mass, along with Catholic bishops and government officials are only 500.
Historical records showed that the First Mass in the country was on Easter Sunday on March 31, 1521 in Masaua which is Limasawa town.
The torched cross was replaced with another cross patterned to the former on order of the former first lady Imelda Marcos on top of a hill in Barangay Magallanes as part of her campaign to promote tourist spots in the country in the early 1980s.
Photo: Manila Bulletin