10/10/2020, 12.39
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The first Easter mass in Limasawa in 1521

by Kenneth Corbilla

On the occasion of the 500th anniversary of the evangelization of the Philippines, the bishops confirm the study of the National Historical Commission.  The celebrant was Fr.  Pedro Valderrama, the only priest who embarked with Ferdinando Magellano.


Manila (AsiaNews) - The first Easter Mass celebrated in the Philippines took place in 1521 on the island of Limasawa, southern Leyte (in the center of the archipelago).  The celebrant was a certain Fr.  Pedro Valderrama, the only priest who embarked with Ferdinand Magellan, in his (almost) circumnavigation of the globe.  Magellan, after converting the king of Cebu, died in the same year in a revolt led by an indigenous leader, Lapu-Lapu, on the island of Mactan.

The search for the "first mass" celebrated in the country adds to the fact that the Filipino Church is about to celebrate the 500th anniversary of the first evangelization.  It was supposed to start in 2020, but due to the Covid-19 pandemic, many events have been postponed to 2021 and 2022.

There has been a lot of conflicting research and hypotheses on the "first mass" in the archipelago.  In 2018, the National (Government) Historical Commission tried to shed some light by verifying three different studies carried out in 1980, 1995 and 2008. All indicated Limasawa Island as the place where the mass took place, but there was no agreement on the date.  The Historical Commission then established the date of the First Easter Mass, suggesting that there may have been masses not documented by historical sources.

In a resolution dated 25 September, the Philippine Bishops' Conference accepted the results of the National Historical Commission, to use it in preparation for the 500th anniversary of the evangelization of the Philippines.

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