The Black Nazarene or Hesus Nazareno is a full-sized statue of a dark-skinned Jesus Christ, bearing the Cross. The statue is usually displayed at the Minor Basilica of the Black Nazarene in the city of Manila. Three times a year, the statue leaves the church to be paraded through the streets. A solemn procession or translation takes place on January 9th, on Good Friday, and on New Year's Eve.
January 9 procession
January 9 is the day of the official Feast of the Black Nazarene. The procession is carried through the Quiapo district to the Quiapo Church. Therefore, the celebration is also known as Quiapo Fiesta. The event draws as many as ten million devotees.
On January 8, people gather for a night vigil in Rizal Park. The praying, chanting, singing and religious performances last for the whole night. The parade starts after the mass in the morning, when The Black Nazarene statue is put on a special carriage. The procession moves very slowly, covering a 4-mile (6.5-km) route from Rizal Park to the Minor Basilica in about 22 hours.
Since the statue of Jesus is dressed in a maroon and yellow cape, people try to wear clothes of relevant colors. Some devotees wear white or yellow clothes. These are Hijos del Nazareno (Sons of the Nazarene), who are authorized to ride on the carriage and help devotees climb up and touch the statue. They also wipe it with a cloth and toss it to the crowd. Filipino Catholics believe the Back Nazarene statue has miraculous powers to grant wishes and heal cancer and other illnesses. Devotees walk barefoot in order to show their humility and imitate Christ’s walk to Golgotha.
The history of Black Nazarene
The statue of the Black Nazarene was created in mesquite wood by a Mexican sculptor in Manila in the 1600s. Jesus was carved with a cross, on the way to crucifixion. The image was partially destroyed in 1945, during the World War II. The Archdiocese of Manila invited a renowned Filipino sculptor Gener Manlaqui to create a replica. The replica was called the Vicário. It retains the original torso and a new head, made of Litsea leytensis wood.
Overall, the Procession of the Black Nazarene is a very beautiful and inspiring phenomenon, especially for those who are interested in discovering the ways Christianity reaches the souls of people all over the world.