The Catholic Bishops’ Conference of the Philippines (CBCP) has released the official theme and logo for the 500th anniversary of the arrival of Christianity in the country which will be marked in 2021.
The theme and logo of the celebration, dubbed “500YOC”, was approved by the members of the permanent council of the CBCP on Sept. 18.
“Gifted to Give”, taken from Matthew’s Gospel (10:8), is the theme for the celebration.
In a statement, Father Marvin Mejia, secretary-general of the conference, identified the various elements of the logo, including a cross, a ship, the sun, a rosary, among others.
The cross planted by Portuguese explorer Ferdinand Magellan on the island of Cebu signifies Christianity and serves as the mast of a ship.
The ship represents the navigators of the expedition that brought the faith to the island. It also signifies the Church and its sacraments.
A dove symbolizes the Holy Spirit, which shares the "Divine Life" in the sacrament of baptism. It also looks like a cloud that manifests the presence of God.
"It is also slightly attached to the cross or the mast as a sail of the ship, significantly telling us that through the Holy Spirit the missionaries were led to our country, bringing us to Christianity," read Father Mejia's statement.
"The circular pattern of the Holy Spirit shows that it navigates all around the world as God is a missionary God who commissioned the Church for world mission," it added.
The central figure on the logo is taken from national artist Fernando Amorsolo's "First Baptism in the Philippines" painting.
The sun, a trademark of Amorsolo's various artworks, was derived from the Philippine flag, suggesting the idea that the country is "the pearl of the orient sea."
"It also signifies new life, a new beginning, the risen Christ, the hope of our salvation," added the statement.
The "ichtus" or the fish, which symbolizes Jesus, is a reminder that the faith we professed is the same faith as that of the early Christians. Its red color signifies the blood of the martyrs, the "seed of Christian faith in imitation of Christ."
Manila Auxiliary Bishop Broderick Pabillo, chairman of the Episcopal Commission on the Laity, earlier said the 2021 observance "is a reminder of how Filipinos embraced the Catholic faith."
"It is not a reminder of how we were colonized but of how Filipinos embraced Catholicism," said the bishop, adding that "colonization and the arrival of Christianity in the country are two different things."
Christianity was brought to the Philippines in 1521 when the Portuguese explorer, Ferdinand Magellan, landed there. He was leading a Spanish expedition in his bid to reach at the East Indies, sailing west. The Philippine archipelago, which was named after King Philip II, became a colony of Spain until 1898.
Since 2012, the Catholic Church in the Philippines has been on a 9-year preparation for the 500 years of the arrival of the Gospel in the country, with each year assigned a specific theme and aspect of the Church and Christian life.
With about 81 percent of its estimated population of some 100 million identifying themselves as Catholics, the Philippines is home to Asia’s largest Catholic population. (Source: UCANEWS)