The Municipal Government of Lezo, in partnership with the St. Isidore Parish, celebrated the 3rd annual Feast of Sr. Sto. Niño de Lezo and the Ati-atihan de Lezo Festival on January 7.
The celebration started with a vesper mass on January 6, 2022, held at the Saint Isidore Parish Church, and on January 7, a high mass was held in the morning, followed by Pagpanuktok, where Mayor Mary Lenette R. Fernandez knocked on the church door calling for the parish priest to open, and Pag-abi-abi where the Municipal and Barangay Officials, as well as various organizations and devotees, welcomed the exit of Sto. Niño from the Church.
To the beat of the drums, officials from the municipal officials and employees, 12 barangays, religious organizations, the Department of Education, and other devotees joined the procession of the Sto. Niño and Sadsad Panaad.
The feast of Sto. Niño began in Lezo in 2019, when Rev. Fr. Alan G. Sta. Maria was appointed parish priest and discovered the statue of Sto. Niño on the upper level of the retablu de altar. He recognized the placement of the Sto. Niño image is the same as it placed in Kalibo.
After retracing the history of how St. Isidore’s Parish obtained the statue, the Parish started celebration of the Feast of Sto. Niño de Lezo every first Saturday of January beginning on January, 2020.
Msgr. Jose Iturralde stated in 1970 in his Religious History of the Devotion to the Sto. Niño in Ibajay that in 1798, Padre Fernando de Legaspi, a parish priest based in the town of Malinao, heard about the yearly celebration of the Sto. Niño being held in Ibajay and went there, but he was captured in the hands of pirates after its feast. Father Legaspi was only released in exchange for gold, and he saw the event as a miracle, praising the Sto. Niño of Ibajay in particular. In gratitude, he later instituted an act of devotion to the Holy Child through fasting and other penitential rites, which the people of Malinao still observe during this festival.
Prior to Fr. Legaspi’s transfer to Kalibo, the faithful in Barrio Guicod (now Lezo) asked the priest to place the image of the Sto. Niño in their chapel and later, when the church was founded in May 1866, in the San Isidro Labrador Church. The image of Sto. Niño has been placed above the image of San Isidro Labrador, Lezo’s patron saint. The church architectural design used on altarpieces in Malinao, Kalibo, and Lezo was the same, indicating the origin of the devotion spread by Fr. Fernando Legaspi.
The celebration of the devotion to the Feast of Sto. Niño was revived and held in 2020, spearheaded by Fr. Sta. Maria in collaboration with Mayor Fernandez, with a religious procession and floral offering of the faithful of Lezo to the feast of their Sto. Niño. (By Ernan T. Baldomero)