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Magellan's Cross, located in Magellanes Street, is Cebu's most important historical landmark and an important shrine.
In 1521 the Portuguese navigator, Ferdinand Magellan, erected the original large wooden cross at this location where Cebu's Rajah Humaton, his wife Juana, their sons and daughters, and about 800 followers were baptised (by Father Pedro de Vallderrama) on April 14, 1521 and the first Catholic mass in Cebu (in fact, the first Catholic mass in the Philippines) was celebrated.
The original cross gradually deteriorated as over the years the faithful (including many who believed the cross had miraculous powers) took little pieces of the cross as mementos.
In 1845 another cross was placed at the spot. This new cross was made of tindalo wood and inside a hollow inside splinters of the original Magellan's Cross were preserved.
Today a modest red-tiled octagonal pavillion (or kiosk) shelters the cross.
Inside the pavillion, the ceiling mural depicts Magellan's landing in Cebu in 1521, his planting of the original cross on the shore of Cebu Island, the conversion of the first Filipinos to Christianity, and the celebration of the first mass in Cebu.
Some historical accounts say that the original cross installed by Magellan was destroyed soon after the first Spanish expedition left the islands and that another cross was installed by Legazpi some some four decades later. Nevertheless for Cebuanos this is still Magellan's Cross and not Legazpi's cross.
It should remembered that Magellan's Cross is not just for tourist. First and foremost, it is a religious shrine for Roman Catholic believers who can be seen coming here regularly to pray, to light candles and to leave money in the alms boxes.
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Author: David Paul Wagner
(David Paul Wagner on Google+)