Despite the heat and exhaustion that come with the almost day-long procession, many Filipino Catholics still choose to walk barefoot and wipe towels to the image, believing that the statue has miraculous attributes.
Philstar.com/Efigenio Christopher Toledo
What you need to know about the Black Nazarene
(Philstar.com) - January 8, 2019 - 8:33pm

MANILA, Philippines — Throngs of devotees clad in maroon and yellow and a venerated image of Jesus Christ make their way to Quiapo Church in Manila during the Feast of the Black Nazarene every year on January 9.

Despite the heat and exhaustion that come with the almost day-long procession, many Filipino Catholics still choose to walk barefoot and wipe towels to the image, believing that the statue has miraculous attributes.

It can heal sicknesses—even terminal ones, many followers say. Others believe it can grant petitions, help those in need and forgive sins.

Quiapo Church officials estimated that around five million individuals will participate in the annual traslacion on Wednesday. This year’s event carries the theme “Hinirang at Pinili Upang Maging Lingkod Niya.”

Here are the things you need to know about the sacred statue:

Different accounts on why the Nazareno is black

According to the website of the Minor Basilica of the Black Nazarene, the dark image of a semi-kneeling Jesus Christ “reflected the native culture” of the Mexican sculptor who made it. The statue was entrusted to a Recollect priest who brought it to Manila.

Some accounts said the galleon where the statue was loaded caught fire during the voyage, which explains the color.

But according to theologian Msgr. Sabino Vengco Jr.—who conducted a personal research in Mexico—the statue has always been black.

In an interview with GMA News, Vengco claimed the wood used for the image of Jesus was mesquite—a dark brown hardwood found mostly in northern Mexico. He noted that the wood was a popular medium in the period the statue was carved.

The website of the Minor Basilica of the Black Nazarene also offered another explanation on why the image has a black color: there was a time in Europe when statues were colored black.

“The message being conveyed by this practice was to manifest the truth conveyed by the Apostle Paul in his letter to the Philippians that Christ Jesus ‘though He was in the form of God did not deem equality with God something to be grasped, but rather took the form of a slave being born in the likeness of men,’” it said.

Transfer to Quiapo Church

The annual procession every January 9—locally called “traslacion”—commemorates the time when the image was transferred from Intramuros to Quiapo in 1767 upon the order of Basilio Sancho de Santas Justa y Rufina, the archbishop of Manila at the time.

The image was first enshrined in a Recoletos church at Bagumbayan (Luneta) with St. John the Baptist as patron.

“In a way, [traslacion] is imitating the Calvary experience: the sacrifice and suffering that our Lord endured for our salvation like when Jesus was walking barefoot, carrying the cross to Mount Calvary,” Msgr. Jose Clemente Ignacio, rector of the Quiapo Church, told Catholic News Agency in an interview.

This year’s traslacion spans approximately 6.1 kilometers, covering roads and streets in Manila. It will begin at Quirino Grandstand in Rizal Park and will end once the statue reaches Quiapo Church.

Spared during disasters

Many Filipinos believe that the Black Nazarene image is miraculous after surviving several disasters, including fires and earthquakes.

A massive fire engulfed Quiapo Church in 1791 and a strong earthquake heavily damaged the church in 1863 but the statue was not destroyed.

It was also spared during the bombing of Manila during World War II but the image of the Black Nazarene was spared.

Related video:

BLACK NAZARENE QUIAPO TRASLACION 2019
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