THE centuries-old parish of St. Nicholas of Tolentino and Santuario de Santo Cristo Milagroso in Sinait, Ilocos Sur has officially assumed its status as a minor basilica.
Archbishop Charles Brown, Apostolic Nuncio to the Philippines, led the Mass to celebrate the formal accession of the Church of Sinait as a minor basilica on February 16, 2022.
“To be a minor basilica is to be so close to the pope,” Bishop Brown said.
The event brought together Cardinal Jose Advincula of Manila, Cardinal Orlando Quevedo, the Archbishop Emeritus of Cotabato and six other bishops from North Luzon.
In his homily, Advincula said the “gift” of being declared a minor basilica “comes with a mission and a responsibility.”
“We cannot simply remain recipients of the gift of faith. We are also called to share it,” Advincula said. “We are also challenged to be missionaries wherever we find ourselves.”
Sinait Church is the 19th minor basilica in the Philippines and the third in Ilocos. Badoc Church in Ilocos Norte was declared a basilica in 2019.
The basilicas have the privilege of an “ombrellino” – a cone-shaped red and yellow canopy – and a “tintinnabulum”, a bell mounted on a mast that can be carried in procession. They are also authorized to use the crossed “papal keys” on banners and signs.
Built in 1574 by Augustinian missionaries and completed in 1598, Sinait Church is one of the oldest religious buildings in the country.
The shrine houses a 400-year-old image of the crucified Christ which has aroused immense devotion among devotees in Ilocandia and Cagayan Province.
The image was found in 1620 on the shores of Dadalaquiten, the border between the towns of Sinait and Badoc in Ilocos Norte.