01/11/2011, 00.00
PHILIPPINES

Quiapo: more than two million devotees honour the statue of the Black Nazarene

People from all walks of life take part in the 14-hour procession dedicated to the miraculous statue, whose feast day is celebrated every year on 9 January. More than 400 people are hurt by pressing crowds. People come because “they see themselves in the image of the suffering and struggling Black Nazarene,” Manila archbishop says.

Manila (AsiaNews/ Agencies) – More than two million people braved rain, wind and crowds in order to touch the statue of Jesus, and ask for a miracle. Every year, the statue, known as the Black Nazarene, is carried in procession through the streets of Quiapo (Manila).

The celebration began at dawn last Sunday and went on for 14 hours, attracting people from every walk of life, shouting “Viva the Nazarene”. Devotees followed the statue for about five kilometres from Quiapo’s minor basilica to the Quirino Grandstand in Rizal Park. About 400 devotees were hurt attempting to touch the statue.

“Every year, the number of devotees grows because they see themselves in the image of the suffering and struggling Black Nazarene,” Card Gaudencio Rosales, archbishop of Manila, told reporters. The majority of them are “poor, ordinary Filipinos.”

The statue presents Jesus bent under the weight of the Cross. A Spanish Augustinian priest brought it to Manila in1607 on a ship from Mexico.

According to tradition, a fire broke out on board but the image of Christ was miraculously spared, just taking on a darker hue.

Despite the damage, the people of Manila decided to keep the image and honour it. Since then, it has been called the Black Nazarene and many people believe they were healed just by touching it.

Over the centuries, the aura of miracle surrounding the image of Christ has made the statue into a symbol of the Filipino people.

A few years ago, the country’s bishops accepted to have a copy made for Mindanao Christians, who are too far away to take part in the Quiapo procession. Instead, celebrations are held simultaneously in Cagayan de Oro on 9 January, the feast day of the Black Nazarene, and on Good Friday.

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