Tag Archives: Black Nazerene Festival

#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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#8 Quiapo

The central square in Quiapo also known as Plaza Miranda, which faces the Quiapo Church founded byFranciscan Missionaries in 1586, is one of the most colorful church squares that captures the raucous atmosphere of a typical and busy plaza in any Philippine town.

Quiapo, described by noted Filipino novelist Nick Joaquin as the “armpit of Manila,” is the throbbing heart of downtown Manila. The Church is bordered by congested shopping streets, street vendors, diesel-belching jeepneys, churchgoers and all the lost souls roaming central Manila. The street vendors and their wares are themselves a unique sight and experience, selling a range of novelties from amulets, crucifixes, herbal lotions, menstrual creams to old coins, keys and a host of other exotica (fauna or flora), including puppies and kittens.

Quiapo Church is famous for the Black Nazarene, a life-size black wooden statue of Christ on the cross  said to have been brought to the Philippines by Spanish galleon from Mexico in 1767. Catholic Filipino devotees of the Nazarene believe the statue possess miraculous healing powers.

On the Black Nazarene’s Day celebrated on January 9, the square and the avenue that runs parallel to Quiapo Church is the scene of festivities, including a teeming mass of male devotees that gather around the church for a chance to touch or carry the statue. The mass of people (mainly males) is so big and dense that not even a needle can hit the street pavement.

Wandering around Quiapo is a not-to-miss experience if only for the heady bustle of street and (cheap) shopping life. From stores selling roasted pork, Chinese sweet breads, China-made electronics to native crafts, flowers and fruits, anyone and anybody can have a fun time in this district for a few measly pesos. 

Mabuhay ang Quiapo!

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