Date of Award


Document Type

Dissertation - SCU Access Only


Santa Clara : Santa Clara University, 2021.

Degree Name

Doctor of Sacred Theology (STD)


Eduardo Fernández, SJ


Filipinos‘ general experience of vulnerability and brokenness made the Santo Niño (Holy Child) and Hesus Nazareno (Jesus the Nazarene) the two main devotional practices related to Christ in the Philippines. This study in contextual theology investigates the history, rituals, prayers, cultural expressions, and personal experiences surrounding the two devotions. I argue that the devotees‘ worship is their living witness to the vulnerable and broken Christ, whom they encounter as the God-with-them and who rescues them from the many challenges they experience.

By listening to the stories of Filipino devotees both in the Bay Area, California and those in the Philippines, I discovered that their devotions to Santo Niño and Nazareno contain a mix of indigenous Filipino practices like touching the image to draw strength or be healed. I also observed remnants of original mythologies, like the story of Malakas at Maganda, Powerful and Beautiful, projected on how they regard Nazareno as the Powerful and Santo Niño as the Beautiful. Their cultural trait of being family-oriented transforms the regular Friday devotions in the Bay Area, California, the annual walk with Nazareno called traslación in Quiapo, Philippines, and the sinulog dance with Santo Niño in Cebu, Philippines, as grand family reunions. Most often, these rituals are effusive, celebratory, and highly somatic. In the devotees‘ faith experiences, which revealed power in brokenness and beauty in vulnerability, I was able to sketch, through my engagement with Catholic magisterial teachings and Judeo-Christian scripture, a more expansive image of a Filipino Christ. This study reframes the role of popular devotion as a significant part of the church‘s life. Thus, Filipino Catholics in their homeland and in the diaspora are nourished not only from the official worship of the Church but also drink from the expansive font of popular devotions.

SCU Access Only

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