#263 Black Nazarene Festival

Mass of Black Nazarene devotees near Quiapo Church, Manila

On January 9 a huge procession would take place every year in Manila during the Feast of the Black Nazarene. In terms of numbers it is by far the single biggest religious festival in the whole Philippines and the epicentre of the celebration is in Quiapo Church in the heart of downtown Manila.

This religious festival is both fun and unnerving to watch since a tremendously huge crowd of people, mostly men, usually show up on bare feet to show their devotion and penitence. For the whole day this mass of people would struggle to pull the carriage inch by inch in a slow procession of the Black Nazarene statue to Quiapo Church. Devotees believe that to touch the statue on this day would heal them of diseases.

Every year, when the Black Nazarene parade occurs, the center of Manila is virtually inaccessible to motor traffic. Hundreds of devotees faint or pass out due to the heat emanating from the pack of pressed bodies surrounding Quiapo Church and the adjacent square.

The Black Nazarene is a life-size statue of Jesus Christ brought by Augustinian Recollect friars to the Philippines on May 31, 1606 from Mexico. An Aztec carpenter reportedly carved the statue, which is now enshrined in the minor basilica of Quiapo. Devotees to the Black Nazarene usually flock to church on Fridays to pay their devotions.

Long live Philippine festivals!

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Filed under Arts and Culture, Icons, Places, Traditions

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