At first I thought what was referred to as the Santo Niño de la O was actually inside the Virgen de la O’s womb. Until I saw an image of the Santo Niño outside the church, here the infant Jesus stands in a circular halo mounted on a pole.
According to Anita Feleo, the original piece consists of a circular halo made of silver, the outer silver is a sunburst whose rays are laced with floral vine; the inner circle which is more solid, is like a wreath. The entire halo rests on a single rod around whose upper end, close to the halo’s base, is wrapped a red velvet skirt trimmed with silver embroidery and pearls. Feleo explains that the halo represents Mary’s womb.
Is the circular radiance surrounding the image of the infant Jesus represent the other “O” of the promise?
The images of Mother and Child were gifts from King Carlos III of Spain. When Carlos was still crowned prince, he stayed in the Philippines for two years. It was said that the prince would haunt wild animals in Pangil’s dense forest and swim in its river. The river is now called Bambang Hari in his honor. A statue of Prince Carlos stands in front of the church to remember his presence in the small yet beautiful town of Panguil.
Pangil must have been among his favorite places because after he was crowned king in 1764, he sent Pangil the images of the Virgen de la O and Santo Niño de la O as a thanksgiving for the town folks’ kindness. Stories have it that the Holy Infant’s crown is actually the crown Carlos wore as a child.
There are only two sets of these images found in the world, the other two statues are in Sevilla, Spain. However, I did not see the image of the Child Jesus in the Church. I was told that the original image of the Santo Niño de la O was under the care of a private individual. At that point, I was inspired to locate the original image of the Child Jesus.
Second of four parts. To be concluded.
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