10/23/2020, 11.35
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Manila, Covid-19 cancels traditional procession of the 'Black Nazarene'

The authorities of the Philippine capital announced the decision this morning. The event, scheduled for January, attracts millions of people, Catholics and non-Catholics, every year. The metropolis is in partial quarantine, social distancing is in force and mass gatherings and events are prohibited. Churches can accommodate 30% of the faithful.

Manila (AsiaNews / Agencies) - This morning the Manila authorities announced the cancellation of the traditional procession of the "Black Nazarene" scheduled for January 2021, a secular event that attracts millions of people, Catholics and non-Catholics, to the streets of the Philippine capital every year .

The decision was reached due to the ongoing health emergency triggered by the new coronavirus pandemic. In fact, the country, famous for its colourful religious rituals, is second among the nations of Southeast Asia for infections, behind Indonesia.

In a note, issued by the Manilla authorities, explains that "the great procession with the life-size statue of the Black Nazarene in January 2021 has been cancelled due to the Covid-19 pandemic". At the moment the capital is in a condition of partial quarantine with various blocks and restrictions, including the prohibition of gatherings and mass events as well as respect for social distancing.

Each year the translation of the sacred sculpture from its original site - the church of St Nicholas of Tolentino - to the parish of Quiapo concludes a novena (December 31-January 9) and sees the participation of faithful gathered in prayer, to ask for a grace or a personal miracle. The event lasts over 20 hours. According to the organizers, at least 4 million people attended in January 2020.

The restrictions implemented in the Philippine capital will be in effect at least until the end of October. In addition to the prohibitions and limits imposed on public transport, the authorities have also ordered the closure of cemeteries and columbaria, to avoid gatherings on the occasion of the upcoming festivities of All Saints and the dead, in early November. At the moment the maximum limit of people allowed in churches is 30% of the maximum capacity.

The updated numbers show almost 364 thousand people infected with the new coronavirus and 6783 victims of Covid-19. The Philippines, a former Spanish colony, is the only nation on the Asian continent with a Catholic majority; out of a total of 107 million people, the faithful are about 80%.

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