First mega-procession of the “Black Nazarene” after the pandemic

First mega-procession of the “Black Nazarene” after the pandemic The procession of the Black Nazarene in Manila, the Philippines, January 9, 2019. Photo: CNS

Manila (KNA) More than two million people attended the procession with the historic “Black Nazarene” statue of Christ in the Philippine capital Manila on Tuesday. It was the first procession with the life-size statue since 2020; in previous years, the traditional procession was cancelled due to the Covid-19 pandemic.

More than 15,000 security personnel and medical staff were deployed along the 6.6-kilometre route from Rizal Park to Quiapo Church. According to local media reports, there were chaotic scenes as worshippers repeatedly tried to climb onto the wagon carrying the statue of Jesus. For the first time, the statue was transported in a bullet-proof glass case to protect it from damage. The procession, in which many participants walk barefoot, usually lasts 18 to 22 hours. It is one of the most popular religious festivals in the predominantly Catholic Philippines and is considered one of the largest religious events in the world.

The procession began in the rain in the early hours of the morning after a church service led by Manila’s Archbishop Cardinal Jose Advincula in Rizal Park. In his sermon, Advincula called on the faithful to be “models” of the life of Jesus Christ.

The centuries-old statue of the black Jesus Christ is considered the greatest shrine of the Filipino Catholics. The life-size statue, probably made by an Aztec artist in Mexico, was brought to the Philippines by Spanish missionaries in 1606 and is kept in the church of Quiapo.