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The Black Nazarene

January 9, 2008 12:08pm
The Black Nazarene image

* The Black Nazarene image in Quiapo is a life-sized statue of Jesus Christ in a semi-kneeling position, bearing a cross. It's clad in a dark red robe with gold patterns.

* The Black Nazarene image is said to be the work of an unknown Mexican artist.

* The Black Nazarene has been in the country for a little over 400 years. It was entrusted to a Recollect priest and was brought to Manila from Mexico onboard a galleon in the early 1600s (the first group of Recollect friars arrived in the country in 1606, so the statue could have been with them on that year or a few years later). The ship caught fire at some point during the voyage, damaging the image and causing its dark brown color to turn even darker.

* The Black Nazarene is also referred to as "Nuestro Padre Jesus Nazareno" and "Señor".

* The Black Nazarene has been housed at the Quiapo Church (Saint John the Baptist Church/ Minor Basilica of the Black Nazarene) since 1787.

Devotion to the Black Nazarene

* The Black Nazarene image is brought out of Quiapo Church and paraded around the streets of Manila every January 9 and Good Friday.

* The procession every January 9 commemorates the transfer of the Black Nazarene image ("traslacion") from Intramuros to Quiapo Church, not the parish feast. The parish feast is every June 24 -- Feast Day of St. John the Baptist (Quiapo Church, after all, belongs to the Parish of St. John the Baptist).

* Aside from January 9 and Good Friday, the image is also brought out for a thanksgiving procession on January 1. However, the procession route on this date is shorter and the crowd is considerably fewer (only about 25% of those who attend the January 9 procession).

* The Black Nazarene image is placed on a carriage (andas/carroza) for the procession. The carriage has wheels, but no motor. It is pulled by devotees holding on to two 50-meter-long abaca ropes. The devotees who volunteer for this task are called "mamamasan".

* Most of the devotees who participate in the Black Nazarene procession follow the image bare-footed as a sign of humility. Most of the devotees are also men.

* There is also the practice of "pahalik", where devotees wait in long queues to touch the foot of the Black Nazarene image near the Quiapo Church altar.

* Hourly masses are held inside the Quiapo Church while the Black Nazarene image is being carried around the streets of Manila.

* Devotees of the Black Nazarene believe that the image is miraculous. Those who participate in the procession endure hours of physical discomfort as they strive to get close to the statue and touch it.

Black Nazarene trivia

* The Black Nazarene image is said to have miraculously survived several disasters, including fires and earthquakes. An often-told story by the devotees is that the statue remained unscathed during World War II, even as Quiapo burned down in the battle for the Liberation of Manila.

* The Black Nazarene's left cheek was damaged by a gunshot during an incident in the late 1990s.

* The Black Nazarene image's original head is attached to a replica of the body. The original body, in turn, is attached to a replica of the head. The image with the original head is placed near the altar of Quiapo Church; the image with the original body is the one that is brought out during the Black Nazarene procession.

* Some Chinese women parishioners donated their own hair as material for the Black Nazarene's wig.

* Vice President Noli de Castro is a Black Nazarene devotee.

* Quiapo Church sold various religious items in 2006 to commemorate the 400th anniversary of the arrival of the original image in the country. Purchase of these items entitled the buyer to a raffle ticket, with a trip to the Vatican as the grand prize:
o medieval cross
o ring and bracelet rosaries
o stampita - a relic containing the Nazareno novena and a piece of cloth from taken from the old dress of the Black Nazarene image
o sculpted miniature replicas of the Black Nazarene (priced between P20,000-P60,000)
o portable altar of the Blessed Virgin Mary, Jesus Christ and St. Joseph
o Bible stand
o shirts, caps and towels

Expected timetable for the procession on January 9, 2008
(according to a phone interview w/ Bro. Ben Simbahan, president of the Parish Pastoral Council, on 01/08/2008)

* 4:00 a.m. - 1:00 p.m.: hourly masses at Quiapo Church
* between 1:30-2:00 p.m.: the Black Nazarene image will be brought out of the Church
* 3:00 p.m.: hourly masses inside the church will resume while the procession goes on
* between 8:00-9:00 p.m.: the image will be brought back into the Church

Advice for those who would like to watch or participate in the procession:

* Do not bring valuables with you, as these might get lost or stolen.
* As much as possible, do not bring children with you.
* Those who do bring children must make sure that their kids have IDs, so that the children can be easily identified and reunited with their families in case they get lost.

Sources: Kaganapan ng Buhay: Jesus Nazareno de Quiapo (an anniversary pamphlet), Minor Basilica of the Black Nazarene, Archdiocese of Manila website, PNP Plaza Miranda Police Community Precint