LIMASAWA, Southern Leyte- With the centennial celebration of the First Mass just five years away, Southern Leyte Rep. Roger Mercado is mulling of filing a bill making the historic event as a national holiday.
On Friday, Mercado led provincial and local officials on the 496th anniversary of the First Mass that marked the entry of Catholicism in the country.
“March 31 is a momentous event that should be celebrated by the whole country with a population that are faithful to the Roman Catholic Church,” he said.
At present, the First Mass celebration is considered as a provincial holiday.
Rep. Mercado, Gov. Damian Mercado, and town Mayor Nilo Petracorta led the officials in the holding of the 496th First Mass celebration amid downcast skies held at the Limasawa National Shrine.
An image of the Santo Nino de Cebu was brought from Maasin City, the provincial capital.
Limasawa was the second stop of Portuguese explorer Ferdinand Magellan and his men after docking in Homonhon Island off the town of Guiuan, Eastern Samar discovering the country in their journey to Moluccas, the “spice island”.
The first First Mass was officiated by Father Pedro de Valderrama at the shore of Limasawa, universally recognized as the first Catholic Mass held in the Orient.
After celebrating the mass in Limasawa, Magellan and his crew went to Cebu where he died at the Battle of Mactan.
Meantime, Mayor Petracorta said that this early, they are now preparing for the 100th year celebration of the historic event.
The centennial celebration will take place in 2021.
“It will be a big celebration,” the town mayor said.
Meantime, Bishop Precioso Cantillas of the Maasin Diocese, in his homily, renewed the strong opposition of the Church against death penalty approved by the House of Representatives.
“The First Mass tells us to protect life and communion with our community because this mass represents Jesus Christ that symbolizes giving of life through the Eucharist,” Cantillas said.
“As a Catholic country, we should live in protecting in life and have unity,” the Maasin bishop said.
Incidentally, Rep. Mercado was one of the congressmen who approved for the passage of the death penalty. (ROEL T. AMAZONA/VICKY C. ARNAIZ)