Black Nazarene replicas flood Manila streets

The streets of Quiapo district in Manila were filled with a crowd in maroon and yellow as devotees of the Black Nazarene gathered for the blessing of replicas of the religious image on Jan. 7.

As early as 9 am, people carrying copies of the centuries-old image of the suffering Jesus assembled outside the minor basilica dedicated to the Nazarene.

The festive ceremony, which was filled with the loud banging of drums and chanting of devotees, was different from the solemn and orderly religious thanksgiving procession of the image on Dec. 31.

Aside from old images that were passed on from generation to generation, a number of new replicas were also brought out for the annual ceremony ahead of the Jan. 9 “traslacion” (transfer) event.

The annual traslacion commemorates the “solemn transfer” of the image’s copy from the old walled city of Manila to the district of Quiapo.

“The replicas and our participation in this procession are expressions of our belief that everything you ask for (from the Nazarene) will be given to you,” said Roland, a devotee who marched with his replica of the saint from the district of Sta. Mesa.

Alex Santos, 23, was among a group of young devotees with matching curly hairstyles. “I think the more I see myself in the likeness of Jesus, I feel more connected to him,” Santos said.

Thousands of people gather outside the Minor Basilica of the Black Nazarene in Manila’s Quiapo district for the blessing of replicas of the image on the Black Nazarene on Jan. 7. (Pho-to by Angie de Silva)

Dennis Dela Cruz, who calls the Black Nazarene as “Senior Boss,” said he began his devotion when he was only nine years old.

“It was not much of imposed faith because I really started believing when I witnessed how someone in our place was healed from illness,” he said.

The blessing of the replicas was led by Monsignor Hernando Coronel, rector of the Minor Basilica of the Black Nazarene, while priests standing on a bridge showered devotees with holy water.

After the blessing, some devotees headed to a nearby part where the traditional kissing of the feet of the image was being held.

“There’s really no difference between going to the procession and lining up to kiss the image, but it’s better for the sake of completing the tradition,” said Jomari, 26.

Noberto Tiongson, 42, said that to kiss the image is to receive “grace,” especially for those who could not attend the procession on Jan. 9.

The traslacion procession recalls the 1787 transfer of the image of the Black Nazarene from an Augustinian church in the old walled city of Manila to the basilica in the city’s Quiapo district.

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