A 300-year-old image of the Sto. Niño was finally returned to a church in Malitbog, Southern Leyte after it was stolen in 1988.
The image of the Infant Jesus was restored to the Holy Child Parish Church after reportedly being in the possession of Manila-based antique collector, Francis Ong.
Ong said that he had discovered an article about the image with pictures and noticed that one image in his collection bore a striking resemblance to the one in the photographs. He then reached out to the Diocese of Maasin in Leyte and it was later confirmed that the image was indeed the one stolen from the church.
The crudeness in the icon’s design displayed local craftsmanship, according to the diocese’s chancellor, Fr. Mark Vincent Salang.
He added that its return was just in time for the celebration of 500 years of Christianity in the country. The image was passed on to an atelier for restoration before finally resuming its place in Malitbog.
Photo: Francis Ong