Church historians reject claim that Butuan was site of First Mass in Philippines

March 19, 2021 - 2:19 PM
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First Mass at Limasawa painting: (Official Gazette PH/Twitter)

An association of Catholic historians has rejected a new book that asserts Butuan in Mindanao was the site of the first recorded Mass in the Philippines in 1521.

The Church Historians’ Association of the Philippines (CHAP) adhere to the National Historical Association of the Philippines’ position that the historic event took place in Southern Leyte’s Limasawa Island.

The NHCP last year adopted the recommendation of a panel of experts reaffirming earlier findings that the March 31, 1521 Mass was celebrated in Limasawa.

The Mojares panel used “First Easter Sunday Mass” to refer to it, suggesting that there may have been Masses not documented by historical sources.

“We concur with the position expressed by the NHCP in its resolution,” the CHAP said in a statement.

“The evidence currently available suggests Limasawa, Southern Leyte, as the site of the first Easter Sunday Mass. Scholarly consensus at present likewise supports this position,” it said.

The group was reacting to a book published by a priest claiming that the Mass was held in Butuan’s Mazaua Island and not in Limasawa.

The assertion was made by Fr. Joesilo Amalla in his book titled, “An Island They Called Mazaua: The Truth About the Site of the First Holy Mass in the Philippines”.

“We reject the recently published book… as substantially misleading and methodologically erroneous,” the CHAP said.

“As historians and scholars, we therefore consider its findings and conclusions unacceptable,” they said.