Religious Festival in Quiapo: Black Nazarene Procession
The feast of the Black Nazarene is an intense, day-long festival in Quiapo Manila. The Black Nazarene festival is considered the largest religious festival in Asia.
Every 9th of January, thousands of devotees from all walks of life come to the church of Quiapo to take part in the procession as a way of strengthening their faith or fulfilling their “panata” (vow) to Lord.
The Black Nazarene is the patron saint of Quiapo Manila. The statue is a life-size replica of Christ that was brought to Manila by a Spanish priest in 1606. Since then, miraculous things have been reported to those who touch the image.
Since 1787, the statue of the Black Nazarene has been housed at Saint John the Baptist Church in Quiapo commonly known as the Minor Basilica of the Black Nazarene or Quiapo Church.
The highlight of the religious festival is the Traslacion reenactment. Literally means “transfer” or “solemn transfer” to the Minor Basilica from its original shrine inside Intramuros. The January 9 Traslación is one of the largest religious gatherings in the world, drawing millions of devotees thronging to touch the icon and lasting 20 hours at the most.
During the procession, devotees normally throw towels to the police who guard the statue and ask them to rub the towel on the statue in hopes of carrying some of that power away with them.
If you decide to take part in the event, be prepared. Most in the crowd go barefoot as a sign of humility as they follow the statue. A few dozen people a year pass out and must be taken away by ambulance. And there is at least a small risk of being trampled.
The feast and procession, though, are a truly Filipino experience.