The first Catholic Filipinos were baptized on the site of this historic chapel, believed to contain the original cross planted by Ferdinand Magellan in 1521.
Visit the ornate Spanish pavilion that shelters the holy relic of Magellan’s Cross in Cebu City. Established by Spanish and Portuguese explorers on the orders of the famous voyager Ferdinand Magellan, the cross marks the beginning of the Philippines’ Catholicization and is an important religious and historic landmark in the city. Admire the chapel’s pretty architecture and see the centuries-old cross against a backdrop of painted scenes on the ceiling.
Walk across the paved square from the Basilica Minore del Santo Niño to reach the octagonal stone chapel, which was built in 1834 to protect the holy relic. The chapel has large arched doorways and a red-tiled roof. Make your way through one of the arches and gaze up at the fabled cross. Locals say that Catholicism in the Philippines began on this very site with the baptism of King Humabon and Queen Juana. Check out the paintings on the chapel’s ceiling, which depict the stories of Magellan reaching Cebu Island’s shores, planting a cross and baptizing the Filipino chieftain.
Read the small plaque beneath the cross explaining that the original crucifix has been encased in tindalo timber to protect it from the elements. Some believe the original cross was damaged by devotees who wished to chip off pieces of wood to keep as souvenirs or miraculous relics. Others say the original cross was destroyed or stolen shortly after Magellan’s death and was quickly replaced by the replica you see today.
Although no one can say which of these stories is true, Magellan’s Cross is a wonderful place to enjoy the atmosphere of a significant pilgrimage site. Take part in the local tradition of placing a coin or a small prayer candle at the base of the cross.
Magellan’s Cross is located in historic Santo Niño, about a 25-minute walk from the Cebu-Mactan Ferry Terminal. Reach the area easily by bus to nearby Cebu City Hall. The chapel is free to visit. It is within a short walking distance from some of Cebu’s most significant historic sites, including Fort San Pedro and the Cebu Metropolitan Cathedral.