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First Mass in the Philippines was on Easter Sunday 1521


Antoine Mekary | ALETEIA

Philip Kosloski - published on 03/31/23 - updated on 03/27/24

March 31 commemorates the anniversary of the first Catholic Mass in the Philippines in 1521.

Each year Filipinos commemorate the anniversary of the first Catholic Mass celebrated on the island of Limasawa in Southern Leyte.

According to Vatican News, “On Easter Sunday in 1521, Father Pedro de Valderrama celebrated the first Catholic Mass in what is now the Philippines, specifically on the island of Limasawa in Southern Leyte.

The date was March 31, and the Spanish priest was part of an expedition to the so-called ‘East Indies’ led by the Portuguese explorer Ferdinand Magellan.”

The Mass was celebrated on an “improvised altar” and the congregation included local inhabitants.

The past few years have seen several jubilee celebrations, celebrating 500 years since the first Mass. Those celebrations were postponed during COVID in 2021, but were held successfully in 2022 and 2023.

John Burger also adds in his article for Aleteia that, “Since 2013, Filipino Catholics have been observing a nine-year preparatory cycle to prepare for the great anniversary. With a particular theme assigned to each year, the Church in the Philippines has sought to deepen and reinvigorate its missionary character, with programs tailored by each of the country’s dioceses and archdioceses.”

In 2024, Easter Sunday and March 31 occur on the same day.

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