The annual feast of the Black Nazarene is one of the most awaited events for most of the Catholic devotees.
Around 12 million devotees from all over the country are expected to join in the nine-day celebration culminating in the Feast of the Black Nazarene from Wednesday, January 1, to Thursday, January 9, the feast proper.
The feast is held each year on January 9. The Black Nazarene is a wooden sculpture of a dark-skinned Jesus Christ, adorned in heavy velvet embroidered with gold thread and carrying the Cross. Originally one of two statues of Christ brought on a galleon from Mexico, it was believed to have been fair-skinned until a fire that broke out in the ship blackened the wood.
Many people believe that the Black Nazarene is indeed miraculous and devotees believe that whoever touched the Nazarene would be healed of their diseases. Every year, devotees from all over the country gather in Quiapo church to witness this event and try their best to come close to touch the image of the Black Nazarene.
The image of the Black Nazarene is brought outside the streets of Quiapo for a procession and is placed in a golden carriage as it sweeps its way in its designated route for the year. The procession, called the Traslacion, will be transferred from the Quirino Grandstand in Luneta to the Minor Basilica of the Black Nazarene (Quiapo Church). Barefoot devotees will be walking with the image, as a sign of penance and thanksgiving for favors received.
Some, who are not fortunate enough to get near the image, will throw a handkerchief or towel to those maroon shirted devotees who are guarding the Black Nazarene and ask them to wipe their bits of cloth in anticipation of carrying some of that power along with it.
In 2013, at least nine million devotees joined the nine-hour procession traversing the narrow three-kilometer route from Luneta to the Basilica in Plaza Miranda.
I have attended this annual event twice; in 2010 and again in 2012, after which I decided not to attempt a third time at this event.
For all those attending, God bless and be safe.
Until next time!