The Fiesta in Manila:
Procession of the Black Nazarene
On January 9, 2004 in the streets of Manila's Quiapo district the Philippines will celebrate the Black Nazarene Procession with throngs of people following the statue through the neighborhood in hopes of a miracle.
The procession, and the accompanying Feast of the Black Nazarene, takes place every year on the second Tuesday in January. It is usually the single largest festival of the year in the Philippines.
The Black Nazarene is a life-sized statue of Christ that a priest bought in Mexico and brought to Manila in 1606. Since 1787 the statue has been housed at Saint John the Baptist Church in Quiapo. For more than 200 years the church has been placing the statue on a gilded carriage every January and pulling it through the streets of Quiapo. People who touch it are reported to sometimes be healed of diseases. Catholics come from all over Manila on the chance that they will be able to get close enough to touch the image and perhaps receive a miracle. They also 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...
The Philippines is the only country in Asia where Roman Catholics make up a majority of the population.
The statue is also brought out on Good Friday.
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.