Download Hundreds of thousands people took to the street of Manila this week to worship a Jesus Christ statue known as the Black Nazarene.
Earlier, the government had warned about a terrorist plot to disrupt the annual festival, but there were no incidents.
The centuries old statue is thought to have healing powers and has its distinctive colour because it survived the fire that sunk the ship that was taking it to the Philippines.
Madonna Virola reports.
A long line of devotees from different parts of the country touch the Black Nazarene—or Black Jesus—in Quiapo, one of the oldest and busiest parts of the capital.
80 years old Adelina Benedicto credits this statue for healing her
“I also used to be very sick in the lungs and would often lose consciousness. I told my friends to bring to the Black Nazarene and I would be become conscious again and feel healed.”
The centuries-old statue which came from Mexico during the Spanish colonial rule is believed to bring miracles and grant people’s prayers.
The statue is black because it survived a fire that sunk the ship that was taking it to the Philippines from Spain.
Dr. Erlinda Acierto is a sociologist at the Asian Social Institute whose offices are not far from the where the statue is kept.
“I heard two stories- One woman, whose son became very prominent, when her son was a baby, he had pulmonary disease, she herself brought the baby to the Black Nazarene and he got well. Another story from our investment consultant was during the war, there was an order to bomb the church, but when the guy was going around on top of the Church to bomb, he could not see the church but just the forest. These are things we cannot explain, but these phenomenon are real because they are lived experiences of people.”
Each year, the statue is carried on a carriage through the streets.
Thousands flock to the area to touch the Black Nazarene or at least the rope that holds it to the carriage.
Maureen Quinzon, a vendor from Calapan who watched the procession on television, criticizes the practice.
“I think some only want to be ‘in the group’. Because if you really have faith in God, and that you will be healed, it can also be through ordinary prayers, by going to Sunday mass, and not that you go to such a big crown, even the old people, I pity them. You just also follow the doctor. Miracle is in the heart of a person. We observe other processions like the flower festival in May, but not as chaotic as that.”
But sociologist Erlinda Acierto says the practice has deep meaning for Filipino Catholics.
“Some interviewed said this is my way of cleansing myself. What you do is governed by your own philosophy. To others- to pray for mother who is sick, for unity, that we’ll have any more calamities, to thank God that we are saved from calamities. It’s deep inner faith, they find meaning in the Black Nazarene who intercedes for them to God the Father to grant their prayers.”
During the procession, hundreds were injured and brought to the nearest hospital.
In the past, scores of devotees have died during the procession because they were crushed by aggreesive crowds or had heart attacks.
Erlinda Acierto again.
“That is where we have to reflect, where we have to teach people, that if it endangers them, they should also consider listening. If our practices counter common good, we must to be ready to move for change, to accept suggestions.”
Manila’s Archbishop Luis Antonio Tagle, during the Mass at the Quirino Grandstand, appealed to the devotees to clean up the garbage after the procession.
But people didn’t listen to him and the area was like a rubbish dump after the procession.