NHCP affirms Limasawa Island as site of ‘First Easter Sunday Mass’

NHCP affirms Limasawa Island   as site of ‘First Easter Sunday Mass’

Photo courtesy: Official Gazette PH/Twitter

By CBCP News

August 20, 2020

The National Historical Commission of the Philippines (NHCP) has affirmed that the site of the “First Easter Sunday Mass” almost 500 years ago was held on Limasawa Island.

In a resolution dated July 15 but released only on Wednesday, the NHCP adopted a recommendation that the island off Southern Leyte be ‘sustained’ as the site of the historic Mass.

In 2018, the NHCP created a new panel chaired by historian and national artist Resil Mojares to review the long-standing issue of the exact location of the Mass on March 31, 1521.

Some proponents insisted Butuan City in Agusan del Norte as the real site of the historic Eucharistic celebration in the country.

After more than a year of research and evaluation, the panel concluded that the evidence and arguments presented by the Butuan proponents “are not sufficiently conclusive” to warrant the reversal of the current government ruling on the First Easter Sunday Mass.

“The panel therefore recommends that Limasawa Island, Leyte, be sustained as the site of the First Easter Sunday Mass of 1521,” the NHCP said.

After the panel report was reviewed by the history department of several universities and a number of professional’ organizations, the NHCP adopted “the recommendation of the Mojares Panel that the 1521 Easter Sunday Mass in the Philippines took place in Limasawa, Southern Leyte.”

It was the fourth time that a group of scholars was formed to revisit the controversy to once and for all resolve the debate over where the historic Mass took place.

Previous studies were conducted in 1980, 1995 and 2008, and all of these panels concluded that the site of the first Eucharistic celebration was on Limasawa.

Some groups, mostly proponents of the Butuan theory, claimed that they were not given enough time to present their position papers before the three panels.

The Mojares panel was supported by the bishops’ conference, having its own church historian as member and several members of the Church Historian Association of the Philippines.

In August 2019, President Rodrigo Duterte declared March 31 of every year as a special holiday in Southern Leyte to mark the historic Mass on Limasawa.

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