February 24, 2024

At an antique shop in Candon, Ilocos Sur, I wondered about all the prayers that were once sent to these images and sculptures of saints, Santo Niño, Mother Mary, and the Holy Family that sat gathering dust on the shelves. The once revered pieces that used to sit on household altars are less or no longer prayed to until discovered, reset, and restored on new mantles with holiness.

The Santo Niño, the image of the Child Jesus, dates back to the third and fourth centuries as depictions of the stories that were intended to show Jesus as having extraordinary gifts of power and knowledge, even from a young age, says Google. Stories in the Philippines include the entry of the image with Portuguese explorer Ferdinand Magellan who was said to have discovered the country. The devotion to the Santo Niño is historically rooted in Cebu and the Visayan islands as evidenced by the Sinulog Festivals and the Ati-Atihan Festival in Kalibo, Aklan.

Nonetheless, this reverence to the infancy of the young Jesus is worldwide in the Christian nations. This is perhaps why the European features are prominent in many icons. These once precious items will not matter until they are relocated in similar nooks of importance.

Christ the King, the image is classically that of Jesus with His right hand raised to symbolize the judgement day at the end of the Earth when He returns.  In the Roman Catholic calendar, the feast of Christ the King ends the liturgical year on the last Sunday of October. The devotion marks a period in many churches of the reign of Christ. The Moravian church celebrates it as the end of Pentecostide, the Lutherans refer to the feast as the Judgement Sunday, and the Anglicans refer to this as “Sunday next before Advent.” The celebration in the Christian world recognizes Jesus as the King of Kings.

The Holy Family devotees depict Jesus, Mary, and Joseph as the model family.

According to a Roman Catholic website, “The lives of the Holy Family on earth serve as models for every state of life for both the individual and the family. God offers His graces through the Holy Family of Nazareth to encourage devotion and reflection on their lives.” This is the reason why this image of the biblical family is still extolled and prayed to by Christian families worldwide. Yet, the home that once owned this piece have left their worldly existence and prayers to a cabinet top beside the other unrelated items.

The saints in heaven are the channels of many prayers to the Heavenly Father. Many choose the mortals turned servants of God to inspire men to spread the message of salvation.

A Roman Catholic website states, “Today, the saints serve as examples for all Catholics, showing us how to lead a more satisfying, more spiritual life in communion with our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ. They are reminders that this life will come to an end, and only what was done for Christ will have a lasting reward.”

They once were there for the mothers or fathers as reminders to continue being faithful to God for answered prayers.

The Madonna and Child is said to be, “This lyrical work inaugurates the grand tradition in Italian art of envisioning the sacred figures of the Madonna and Child in terms appropriated from real life. The Christ Child gently pushes away the veil of his mother, whose sorrowful expression reflects her foreknowledge of his crucifixion.

The beautifully modeled drapery enhances their three-dimensional, physical presence and the parapet connects the fictive, sacred world of the painting with the temporal one of the viewer.” The reminder in the domestic setting has many levels of devotion. The constant hope to be like Mother Mary who gave birth to God’s son for the salvation of mankind.

Without a prayer, these icons now rest in the nooks and crannies of this unpretentious antique shop beside the rusty and old mementos of families long gone. – Nonnette C. Bennett