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Philippines: More Than 5 million Pilgrims at Black Nazarene Feast

Devotees Place Their Hopes in the Suffering Christ

More than five million devotees attended the “Traslacion”, the annual procession featuring the image of the Black Nazarene, which started on January 9, 2018, with a prayer vigil during the night, according to Fides News Agency. This feast is a manifestation of popular devotion in the Philippines that has lasted more than four centuries, with millions of devotees who place their hopes in the suffering Christ.

The theme of the “2019 Traslacion” is “Devotees of the Lord Jesus the Nazarene: chosen to serve him.” The peak of the program is the traditional procession through the streets of Manila with a statue, in black wood, depicting Christ carrying the cross towards the Calvary. Believers converge from all over the country to Manila to attend this feast.

Cardinal Luis Antonio Tagle of Manila warned against fanaticism and appealed for real devotion that open one’s heart to God and other people.

Speaking during the midnight Mass for the feast of the Black Nazarene at Manila’s Quirino Grandstand on January 9, he said that piety is embracing God and others with true love.

“A real devotee loves. The essence of devotion is love,” Tagle said in his homily, reported by CBCP News. “A fanatic only holds to something that gives value to them.

“A fanatic, once he does not get what he wants, will stop. But a devotee does not share the same reasoning. You are devoted because you love him or her. That’s what Jesus showed us.”

The statue of the Black Nazarene was brought to Manila in 1607 by Augustinian missionaries from Mexico. It is also believed that it was partially burned and blackened when the galleon carrying it caught fire on a transpacific trip from Mexico, another Spanish colony at the time.

Mgr. Hernando Coronel, Rector of St. John the Baptist Church, in Quiapo district, in Manila, explained: “The feast of the Black Nazarene revolves around the devotion to the suffering Christ, with whom Filipinos identify themselves, in their life marked by poverty and daily suffering. Along the route of the Traslacion, a procession of almost 24 hours carrying the statue begins at Quirino Grandstand, in Rizal Park, in the center of Manila, and ends once the statue reaches up Quiapo Church.”

 

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