JERSEY CITY — Now on its 15th year, the annual feast of Sto. Niño de Tondo will be celebrated by the Filipino community in the tri-state area with a special mass on Jan. 15 at St. Mary’s Church on 2nd Street, between Manila Avenue and Erie Street near PATH Grove Station.

The mass will start at 2 p.m.

Everyone is asked to bring family-owned Santo Niño images to be placed in the altar with the miraculous Sto. Niño of Tondo.

Fiesta reception will follow after the mass.

The feast day of Sto. Niño in Tondo is celebrated in the third Sunday of January.

It has the biggest participation in Manila not only because Tondo is the most populous district in the city and poorest but perhaps because of the many stories connected with the Sto. Niño of Tondo and the church.

It is said that during the Spanish-American War, the Tondo church was used by the American forces as their quarters.

Within 24 hours, all the U.S. troops quartered in the church contacted smallpox and the contingent force had to leave the church premises.

In 1943, the church was also converted by the Japanese troops into their military headquarters.

Sounds of children crying from nowhere bothered the Japanese troops to much that they abandoned the church.

When the liberation of Manila took place in February 1945, the Japanese set the church on fire.

Msgr. J. Jovellanos, the parish priest, evacuated the Church taking with him the image of the Sto. Niño.

The Tondo devotees who were following the image in safety did not suffer so much as a scratch amidst the crossfire of bullets and mortal shells.

For details about the Jan. 15 celebration, call Leny M. Isidro at 551.358.5234, Cita Roman at 201.333.5624, CAM (Ledy) or Parish of the Resurrection (Carmen) at 201.434.8500.