Devotees urged to celebrate Black Nazarene feast at home to prevent COVID-19 spread

Devotees urged to celebrate Black Nazarene feast at home to prevent COVID-19 spread
Hijos Del Nazareno set up the Black Nazarene at Bureau Fire Protection headquarters on January 5, 2021.
The STAR / Michael Varcas

MANILA, Philippines — The Department of Health called on the Catholic faithful to just commemorate the Feast of the Black Nazarene at home as the threat of COVID-19 continues to persist.

In a joint release Thursday, the DOH, together with the Minor Basilica of the Black Nazarene and the Health Professionals against COVID-19, urged the public to refrain from visiting Quiapo Church and find alternative ways to commemorate the event on Saturday.

The “traslacion” or the grand procession of the Black Nazarene, which draws millions of devotees annually, would not push through this year. The “pahalik” or the kissing of the image was also canceled and would be replaced with image viewing of the Black Nazarene.

More masses would be also held for the devotees although only 30% of seating capacity had been allowed for the feast.

With these, Quiapo Church officials are still anticipating an influx of people.

Dr. Anna Ong-Lim warned the Feast of the Black Nazarene could be characterized as a “superspreader” event. Even before the actual feast, people were seen flocking the streets around Quiapo.

The Feast of the Black Nazarene comes as the government expects a post-holiday surge in cases and remains on guard against a new and more contagious variant of COVID-19.


Monsignor Hernando Coronel, Quiapo Church rector, asked the public to just pray at their homes. He added devotees could go to other parishes in Metro Manila and neighboring provinces that hold and fiesta masses.

The health department also called on families to attend only masses.

For those who are planning to physically attend Mass celebrations or image viewing, DOH said the following measures must be strictly observed:

  • Ensure that there is proper ventilation in the place of gathering
  • Always observe physical distancing of at least one meter when going to public or crowded places
  • Wear face masks and face shields properly
  • Keep visits short (as much as possible, not exceeding 15 mins)
  • Always wash or sanitize hands, especially after touching high-touch surfaces
  • Follow the health protocols implemented by the Church and of the local government authorities
  • Cancel travel plans if there is any symptoms of COVID-19.

The Philippines has so far reported 482,083 COVID-19 cases, including 9,356 deaths. — Gaea Katreena Cabico

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