Every Jan. 9, millions of devotees dressed in maroon and yellow gather to celebrate the Feast of the Black Nazarene or the Nazareno. This year, an estimated 16 million people are expected to take part in the massive religious procession known as the “Traslacion” where devotees carry a variety of images and replicas of the statue across Manila. Last night alone, over 148,000 camped out at the Quirino Grandstand to anticipate the procession today and hear the midnight mass celebrated led by Luis Antonio Cardinal Tagle.
As of writing, you might be at home right now watching the happenings of this monumental event unfold through multiple platforms. Whether you’re in awe or questioning why people even bother to brave the crowds, this little feature will help you to understand the beauty as well as the chaos that come with Traslacion.
This unconventional life-size statue of Jesus is in fact enshrined in the famous minor basilica popularly known as the Quiapo Church. Before its well-known miracles came to be known, the statue first embodied its own miracles during multiple instances by surviving basically anything you can throw at it. From earthquakes, floods, and blazing fires to bombings during World War II, the statue managed to endure it all.
“Traslacion” essentially means translation or a passage of something to another. In this case, it signifies the transfer of the image of Black Nazarene. The annual event reenacts the process of traveling from its original shrine in Intramuros to Quiapo Church. The procession itself is a 4.3-mile barefoot journey from the Quirino Grandstand at Luneta all the way to Quiapo that takes almost 20 hours through narrow streets, winding roads, and the struggles of keeping up with the frenzied crowd of devotees.
Evidently, it is now made even more complex and difficult due to the ever-growing sea of participants struggling to touch or wipe a handkerchief or two on the figure. Furthermore, previous processions have even reportedly caused a number of injuries. But while this may easily be viewed as an act of blind faith or even bandwagoning, the relentlessness of most of its devotees actually come from the fact that its devotees are witnesses to its miracles or have heard of the way it has shifted a lot of paradigms.
The miraculous stories it was said to bring about mostly deal with health, like in the case of 71-year-old Virginia Cantos who was diagnosed with tongue cancer but after finishing nine days of novena to the Nazarene, didn’t have to go through surgery as the cancer cells basically became untraceable. Then again, the figure is also known for granting the wish of numerous couples to have a child may it be through conception or adoption.
Nevertheless, the beauty behind all of it is the fact that the procession represents the collective desire and even the ‘bayanihan’ of its believers to give back and pay tribute to the suffering and sacrifice that came with the Passion of Christ and that is evidently being represented by the half-kneeling figure of the Nazarene.
Header photo courtesy of Inquirer.net
Writer: JOY THERESE GOMEZ