The feast of the Black Nazarene is being held on January 9. Devotees gather by the thousands and they’re all there hoping to touch the Black Nazarene and be cured of their sickness or be blessed with good luck.
The Black Nazarene is a wooden, life-sized sculpture of Jesus Christ that was said to have been burnt when it was transported to Manila. During the trip, there was fire on board and the Nazarene was burnt. It was charred but it was safe and had been honored as the Black Nazarene from then on. Many devotees believe that the Black Nazarene is a miraculous icon and is believed to cure the sick.
In the year 1787, the Black Nazarene was ordered by Manila’s Archbishop Basilio Sancho de Santas Junta y Rufina to be transferred to the Saint John the Baptist church in Quiapo, Manila where it is kept up to this day. The Black Nazarene had been through a lot over the years. It had survived the fire that destroyed the Quiapo church back in 1791 and again in 1929 and was spared during the bombing of Manila during the World War 2 in 1945. However, because the original Black Nazarene had endured repeated damages, a replica was created back in 1998 and this replica is the one used in the procession during the Black Nazarene Festival. The original Black Nazarene is kept in safety inside the Quiapo Church.
The procession of the Black Nazarene is a big event to the Filipinos especially to the devotees. Thousands of people gather together outside the Quiapo Church to wait for hours under the sun’s rays or even through bad weather just to have a glimpse of the procession of the Black Nazarene. They would throw face towels to the handlers during the procession to have these face towels rubbed on the image as it is believed that it could cure the sick. Those who manage to climb and touch the Black Nazarene is believed to receive good fortunes. With the thousands of people pushing each other to get close enough to the Black Nazarene, you would expect accidents to happen. Every year you would hear reports of people fainting or having difficulty breathing and even worse, some are reported to have died during the procession. But despite all the warnings and risks, each year the same crowd keeps on coming back.
The Black Nazarene is a unique image of Christ as people perceive Jesus Christ to be white-skinned. If you come to think of it, Jesus Christ has no color and He can be white, black, yellow or red just like the many colored skins of humanity. Having a black image of Christ is a great way to make people be reminded that no matter what our color or race is, Jesus Christ is just like us.