01/08/2007, 00.00
PHILIPPINES
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Manila: Black Nazarene ritual starts

by Santosh Digal
The feast, a manifestation of popular devotion that has lasted for more than four centuries, started with a prayer vigil led by the president of the bishops’ conference. Tomorrow there will be the traditional procession of the statue and a lottery: the winner will deliver a copy of the statue to the Pope.

Manila (AsiaNews) – The feast of the Black Nazarene started today with an overnight prayer vigil. This feast is one manifestation of popular devotion in the
Philippines that has lasted for more than four centuries.

 

The culmination of the programme is slated for tomorrow when a traditional procession will wind its way through the streets of Manila with a statue in black wood of Christ carrying the cross towards Calvary. Local believers say it is miraculous.

 

A lottery will also take place tomorrow for buyers of 400 copies of the statue created by artisans in Paete. The owner of the first ticket to be drawn will win a trip to Rome during which he will hand over the first copy of the state to Benedict XVI. The income from the lottery will go to charity.  

 

Tens of thousands of believers will take part in tomorrow’s celebration – they come from all over the country to the capital. The prayer vigil will be led by Mgr Angel N. Lagdameo, president of the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of the Philippines.

 

The committee presiding over the preparation of the feast was created by the Archdiocese of Manila. The president, Mgr Josefino Ramirez, said: “The ritual aims to recreate the arrival of the statue in the country. It was brought here on 31 May 1606 by Augustinian missionaries from Mexico.”

 

The bishops and priests on the committee “will supervise penitential services, confessions, veneration of the image. We are working in close contact with the local authorities to ensure everything unfolds amid tight security.”

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