The Catholic hierarchy in the Philippines has adopted a government-led study affirming Limasawa island as the site of the first Easter Sunday Mass in the country, reported CBCP News.
In a resolution dated Sept. 25, the bishops’ conference “stand by the proceedings and findings” of a panel of historians affirming previous findings on the historic event.
The National Historical Commission of the Philippines (NHCP) has earlier determined that the 1521 Mass took place on the island off Southern Leyte province.
The NHCP, in a resolution issued on July 15, adopted the recommendation of the panel led by historian and National Artist for Literature Resil Mojares that Portuguese explorer Ferdinand Magellan and his Spanish contingent held the Mass in Limasawa.
The bishops’ leadership said it “concurs” with the NHCP decision supporting the report submitted by the investigating panel on the issue surrounding the liturgical event held almost 500 years ago.
The CBCP resolution was signed by its acting president Bishop Pablo Virgilio David and Bishop Julito Cortes, who heads the Episcopal Commission for the Cultural Heritage of the Church.
The NHCP reopened the investigation into the issue in 2018 after receiving requests from various groups to resolve the controversy anent the site of the first recorded Easter Mass of March 31, 1521.
Some proponents claimed Butuan City in Agusan del Norte as the real site of the historic Mass and not Limasawa.
The requests were also made in time for the 500th anniversary of the arrival of Christian faith in the country in 2021.
The Mojares panel was supported by the CBCP, having its own church historian as a member of the team.
After almost two years of study, actual location surveys, and deliberation, the panel agreed that Limasawa be sustained as the site of the Easter Mass officiated by Fr. Pedro Valderrama, the only priest in Magellan’s crew.
The panel also noted that it is using “Easter Sunday Mass” to refer to it since Magellan’s expedition arrived in the Philippine archipelago during Holy Week and Valderama may have celebrated some undocumented Masses.
Magellan and his crew first landed on Homonhon Island in Eastern Samar province on March 16, 1521, where they stayed for eight days before heading to Limasawa.