The Catholic Bishops’ Conference of the Philippines (CBCP) last September 18 approved the official theme and logo for the 500th anniversary of the arrival of Christianity in the country which will be celebrated in 2021.
The theme for the 500 Years of Christianity celebration is “Gifted to Give”, taken from Matthew’s Gospel (10:8). Manila Auxiliary Bishop Broderick Pabillo, chairman of the Episcopal Commission on the Laity, earlier said the 2021 observance "is a reminder of how Filipinos embraced the Catholic faith."
The logo was inspired by a painting of the first mass by Fernando Amorsolo.
Father Marvin Mejia, secretary-general of the CBCP, explained the various elements of the logo:
Cross. This represents the cross planted by Portuguese explorer Ferdinand Magellan on the island of Cebu. It also signifies Christianity. In the logo, it also serves as the mast of a ship.
Ship. The ship represents the navigators of the expedition that brought the faith to the island. It also signifies the Church and its sacraments.
Dove. A dove symbolizes the Holy Spirit, which shares the "Divine Life" in the sacrament of baptism. It also looks like a cloud that manifests the presence of God. Father Mejia adds that it is also slightly attached to the cross or the mast as a sail of the ship, significantly telling us that through the Holy Spirit the missionaries were led to our country, bringing us to Christianity.
Circle. The circular pattern of the Holy Spirit shows that it navigates around the world as God is a missionary God who commissioned the Church for world mission.
Sun. The central figure on the logo is taken from national artist Fernando Amorsolo's "First Baptism in the Philippines" painting. The sun, a trademark of Amorsolo's various artworks, was derived from the Philippine flag, suggesting the idea that the country is "the pearl of the orient seas." "It also signifies new life, a new beginning, the risen Christ, the hope of our salvation.
Fish. The "ichtus" or the fish, which symbolizes Jesus, is a reminder that the faith we professed is the same faith as that of the early Christians.
Red. Its red color signifies the blood of the martyrs, the "seed of Christian faith in imitation of Christ."
Christianity was brought to the Philippines in 1521 when Ferdinand Magellan, a Portugeuse explorer, landed in the country. He chanced upon the islands as he was sailing west, leading a Spanish expedition in his bid to reach the East Indies.
The islands then became a colony of Spain until 1898 and named after King Philip II, hence called the Philippine archipelago.
Today, with over 80 percent of its estimated population of some 105 million identifying themselves as Catholics, the Philippines is home to Asia’s largest Catholic population.
Union of Catholic Asian News/ Vatican News