Fact checks about Church figures

FACT CHECK: Santo Niño de Cebú not an image of Mesopotamian god Tammuz


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FACT CHECK: Santo Niño de Cebú not an image of Mesopotamian god Tammuz
The Santo Niño de Cebú statue depicts an image of the Child Jesus based on a vision of St. Teresa of Ávila

The claim: The Santo Niño de Cebú, the oldest Catholic artifact in the Philippines, is actually an image of the Mesopotamian god Tammuz.

Rating: FALSE

Why we fact-checked this: The claim was made in a YouTube video posted by a channel with 180,000 subscribers. The video itself has amassed 36,229 views and 1,900 likes as of writing. 

The facts: The Santo Niño de Cebú wooden statue was first brought by Portuguese explorer Ferdinand Magellan when he arrived on the island of Cebu in 1521. It was presented as a gift to the chieftain’s wife. According to Atlas Obscura, the carved figure is believed to have originated from Flanders, Belgium, and traveled with Magellan on his voyage from Spain to the Philippines. According to the official website of the Basilica Minore del Sto. Niño de Cebu, the wooden figure is historically recognized as the oldest religious relic in the Philippines. 

While the video claims that the relic is based on an image of the Mesopitamian god Tammuz, it is known that the statue was created based on a vision of Saint Teresa of Ávila, a 16th century Carmelite nun. Saint Teresa of Ávila, also known as Saint Teresa of Jesus, had been reputed to have had many visions. In one vision, she was coming down the steps of the convent when she saw a beautiful young boy who spoke to her and introduced himself as “Jesus of Teresa.” From then on, the nun always traveled with a statue of the child Jesus when she was establishing new convents. 

Furthermore, there are also other famous statues that depict the Child Jesus. These include the Infant Jesus of Prague and the Infant Jesus of Mechelen. – Katarina Ruflo/Rappler.com

Katarina Ruflo is a graduate of Rappler’s fact-checking mentorship program. This fact check was reviewed by a member of Rappler’s research team and a senior editor. Learn more about Rappler’s fact-checking mentorship program here.

Keep us aware of suspicious Facebook pages, groups, accounts, websites, articles, or photos in your network by contacting us at factcheck@rappler.com. Let us battle disinformation one Fact Check at a time.

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