Every January 9, thousands of devotees from all walks of life come to Quiapo to take part in the procession as a way of strengthening their faith or fulfilling their “panata” (vow) to the Feast of the Black Nazarene.
The Black Nazarene is a life-sized, dark-colored, wooden sculpture of a “black” Jesus Christ carrying a cross held to be miraculous by many Filipino devotees. Its original carver is an anonymous Aztec carpenter and the image was transported by a galleon from Acapulco, Mexico by the first group of Augustinian Recollect friars sent by Spain. Legend has it that the Black Nazarene was charred black because of a fire that broke out on the galleon during its trip to Manila from Mexico. It arrived on May 31, 1606, in this form and has always been depicted as such.
It was transferred from its old home from San Nicolas de Tolentino in Intramuros to its present site in Quiapo, Manila at the Saint John de Baptist Church (Now called Minor Basilica of the Black Nazarene) in 1787 by then Archbishop of Manila, Basilio Sancho de Santa Junta y Rufina.
On the day of The Feast, the church doors open wide and the pilgrims of the area and abroad search for healing and hope. They wave white towels and throw them towards the statue hoping for the chance to touch the image too. The procession begins and the statue in its gilded carriage moves slowly as honored participants dressed in maroon pull the carriage along ropes as thousands of barefoot devotees follow along. The procession followers walk barefoot to mirror Jesus as he walked on to Mount Caramel.
It is said that only the body of the Black Nazarene is displayed in the procession, the original head portion of the statue is safely protected in the Minor Basilica of the Black Nazarene tucked away in the high altars.
Just last January 9, 2010, it was estimated that at least two million devotees of the Black Nazarene flooded the area from Luneta to Quiapo to join the holy procession. Walking barefoot, these devotees will endure the intense heat of the midday Sun, the crushing crowd and the hot asphalt pavement just to touch or wipe a towel on the body of the paraded idol.
So why do you think these devotees will do all that trouble?
Let see…I think it’s all about petitions – the request for some benefit or a reparation of a grievance. Come on guys…you won’t do all those sacrifices without expecting any compensation. It’s really a form of ancient worship. Our ancestors created elaborate ceremonies and rituals to please the gods so rain will fall on dry rice fields. Sacrifices and fasting are required for a bountiful harvest.
Biblical speaking, such practices are forbidden (unless you’re a Roman Catholic) Exodus 20:4-6 is quite clear in the issue.
“Thou shalt not make unto thee any graven image, or any likeness of any thing that is in heaven above, or that is in the earth beneath, or that is in the water under the earth: Thou shalt not bow down thyself to them, nor serve them: for I The Lord thy God am a jealous God, visiting the iniquity of the fathers upon the children unto the third and fourth generation of them that hate Me; And showing mercy unto thousands of them that love Me, and keep My Commandments”
Is Jesus a Nazarene or from Nazareth?
There is a lot of issue concerning the word Nazareth in Jesus’ title. Are we saying that Jesus was from Nazareth or if he’s a member of the Nazarene sect?
Christians will gladly point to Matthew 2:23 for the answer.
And he came and dwelt in a city called Nazareth: that it might be fulfilled which was spoken by the prophets, He shall be called a Nazarene.
But a thorough search of the Old Testament will turn up nothing. There isn’t any prophet in the Old Testament that prophesied it. In fact, the town of Nazareth is never mentioned in the Old Testament.
Excuses varies. Some suggest that Matthew refers to Isaiah 11:1 yet Isaiah and the whole Old Testament never indicated or even implied that the Messiah will be called a “nester”.
There are also who would say that the Nazarene in Matthew refers to the Nazirite. If you are not familiar with it, it can be found in described in Numbers 6:1-21.
2. Refrain from cutting the hair on one’s head.
3. Avoid corpses and graves, even those of family members, and any structure which contains such.
Also, Matthew was clear that Jesus was called a Nazarene (Nazaraios) because he lived in a town called Nazareth. So there! The issue about “natser” or “natsar” or nazir” has no bearing. Matthew 2:23 is a “fulfillment” of a non-existing prophecy.
Is it possible that Jesus and his black counterpart are just stuff of legends? I’ll just leave this thought to the devotees…as Ol’ Bernie Russell once said, “Historically it is quite doubtful whether Christ ever existed at all, or if he did we know nothing about him”.