Traslación – 1.2 M devotees join Feast of Black Nazarene
A sea of devotees gathers in front of the Quiapo Church to join the celebration of the Feast of the Black Nazarene along Quezon Boulevard in Quiapo, Manila, January. 9, 2023. The Traslación (solemn transfer) was canceled for the third straight year but their devotion to the Black Nazarene never wavered. (PNA photos by Joey O. Razon)
MANILA – Over 1.2 million devotees participated in different activities to celebrate the Feast of the Black Nazarene in Manila.
Based on the data released by Quiapo Church Command Center, a total of 1,268,435 devotees joined the celebrations from January 6 to 10, 2023.
This is the third year that organizers have suspended the full traditional Traslación or the procession of the image of the Black Nazarene from the Quirino Grandstand to Quiapo Church in compliance with pandemic protocols. However, the 2023 feast marked the return of some of the physical activities after being suspended due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
“This [year] is far from the five million total projected during the pre-pandemic Traslación, but double the number during the pandemic Traslación,” Fr. Earl Valdez, Quiapo Church spokesperson, said in a statement on January 10.
A total of 925,782 devotees went to the Quiapo Church while those who were at the Quirino Grandstand were 254,653 devotees.
The government declared January 9 a special non-working day in Manila to allow devotees to join the Feast of the Black Nazarene activities.
Another 88,000 faithful joined the Walk of Faith procession where they walked from the Quirino Grandstand to the Quiapo Church on January 8.
Data also showed that most devotees came on feast day itself on January 9 with 709,945 while another 409,785 people showed up the day before.
The Traslación (transfer) was replaced by a three-kilometer Walk of Faith on January 8, from the bayside Quirino grandstand to the minor basilica in Quiapo, home to the 17th century life-sized image of the Black Nazarene, built by the Franciscans in 1586. The building survived two major fires and the 1945 bombing of the capital in World War II.
Quiapo Church officials implored the devotees that kissing the image of the Black Nazarene was prohibited during the “pagpupugay” (viewing or touching) at the Quirino Grandstand, but they were allowed to touch the image or wipe it with their towel or handkerchief. The “pagpupugay” started at 1:00 a.m. on January 7 until January 9. Church personnel were posted near the image to ensure that no one would kiss the image during the entire event.
There were three lanes that separated males, females and persons with disabilities, senior citizens and the pregnant. The devotees were asked to wear masks, line up with physical distancing, and disinfect before and after touching the image of the Black Nazarene.
The image was on stage at the centre of the Quirino Grandstand, site of many official government functions and where Pope John Paul II beatified San Lorenzo Ruiz in February 1981.
First aid teams and medical stations were at the venue for emergencies. The National Capital Region Police Office also deployed 5,559 officers at Quiapo Church and Quirino Grandstand.
Police prohibited vendors within the vicinity of the Quiapo Church while churchgoers were not allowed to bring backpacks and colored canisters. Only transparent plastic bags and water bottles were allowed.
The airspace in the vicinity of Quirino Grandstand and Quiapo Church was also declared “no fly zones” from Friday noon until noon of January 10.
The Traslación re-enacts the “solemn transfer” of the Black Nazarene statue from a church in Intramuros to the Saint John the Baptist Church, which is now commonly referred to as the Quiapo Church, on January 9, 1787. The “solemn transfer” eventually became the date of the Feast of the Black Nazarene.
The wooden statue – carved by an anonymous Mexican artist in the 16th century – was brought to the Philippines in 1606, 85 years after Portuguese navigator Ferdinand Magellan, who sailed under the Spanish flag, set foot on the islands and brought Christianity to the archipelago.
The icon, celebrated in the Philippines, is considered by many Filipino Catholics to be miraculous. They claim that it can cure disease by merely touching it.
Sources: PNA and Manila Standard