Some 40,000 faithful and devotees of the Sto. Nino de Cebu joined the Thursday dawn procession that kicked off the 452nd Fiesta SeAor celebration.
They braved the intermittent rains and the chilly dawn to join the two-kilometer "Walk with Jesus" procession that started from the Fuente OsmeAa rotunda at 4:30 a.m. Thursday and reached the Basilica Minore del Sto. NiAo more than an hour later.
The first novena Mass was held after the procession.
There were no fireworks or balloons along the route of the procession following earlier appeals by Augustinian priests in charge of the basilica to maintain the solemnity of the event and public safety.
The flower-decked carroza that carried the image of the Sto. NiAo arrived at the basilica at 5:45 a.m. and was welcomed with shouts of "Pit SeAor" and the pealing of church bells.
The 3,500-capacity church courtyard was packed. Many had to stay on the streets outside to participate in the Mass which proceedings were beamed on large LED screens and television monitors.
At its peak, the crowd reached 40,000, said Senior Supt. Joel Doria, director of the Cebu City Police Office.
Analisa Bajado, 50, one of the devotees, said it was difficult to move once he was inside the basilica.
A total of 240 policemen were deployed along the procession route and at the basilica complex to secure the crowd.
No untoward incident was reported, Doria said.
In his homily, Fr. Pacifico Nohara Jr., rector of the basilica, called on the people to remain in Jesus who chose to become a human being to share in their sufferings and pains and to save them from eternal damnation.
"He is calling us to be one with Him. Our Holy Child invites us all to come to him and to embrace His presence in our lives. There's nothing that could be more wonderful than living a life truly inspired by the love of God, fully devoted to our faith, and united to others by doing good deeds," he said.
Source: Philippines News Agency