Feast of Holy Child includes Mass, Fiesta Print this post

Mission in Bowling Green celebrates with procession, fun

By Bob Reddy (Florida Catholic)


The Holy Child Jesus is revered by many in the Hispanic community. For example, in Columbia, there is a widely held tradition that a statue of the Holy Child Jesus bought in a religious store in Bogota in 1937 possesses miraculous powers.

For this reason, July 20 is traditionally celebrated in Colombia as “El Divino Niño Jésus de Bogota,” which translates to The Holy Child Jesus of Bogata.

At Holy Child Chapel in Bowling Green — a chapel of St. Michael Parish in Wauchula, as is San Alfonso Chapel in Zolfo Springs — the feast day was celebrated July 22, to better accommodate people who work, with a special Mass and fiesta presided over by Father Juan Carlos Sack, IVE, Administrator of the Chapels and the Parish.

Prior to the Mass a procession was held, with people carrying the statue of the Holy Child with the faithful following along and singing prayers of hope and praise for the Holy Child Jesus.

Father Sack said everyone needs to live their Faith through their hearts and call upon the Holy Child Jesus for guidance. He added that praying to Jesus will serve as a guiding force for the faithful as they commit their lives as Jesus has called them.

The devotion to the Divino Niño in Bogota began with Father John Rizzo, a Salesian priest from the region near Arenzano, Italy, who already had a great devotion to the Infant Jesus. In 1937 he was sent to a poor section in the south of Bogota called the Barrio Veinte de Julio. Convinced that it pleased God to honor Our Lord in his infancy, Father Rizzo wanted to initiate the devotion in his new parish.

In a store owned by an Italian artist in Bogota, Father Rizzo found a beautiful antique statue of the Christ Child — smiling, with his little hands held out; the image was backed with a cross.

Father Rizzo reportedly said, “What! So little and already you want to crucify him? Take off that cross and I will take it.” Father Rizzo also asked the artist to place the words “Yo Reinare” (“I will reign”) at the base of the statue.

Father Rizzo took the statue with him back to the barrio, where he preached to the people about the favors the Christ Child does for those who have faith and who help the poor, building a small chapel in honor of the Divine Child. Soon, miracles and prodigies began to be reported.

The original statue can still be seen in Bogota. A replica from Colombia is now at the front of the Chapel in Bowling Green.

Following the Mass, everyone went outside for a fiesta, which included a barbecue, music, a play by young children and games for the many families. Even with rain shortening some of the program, people were still able to enjoy the sense of community and pride of culture.

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