Filipino Catholics hold big procession after pandemic eases


MANILA, Philippines — Thousands of Catholics, many wearing protective masks and carrying candles, took part in a night parade through downtown Manila early Sunday morning to venerate the statue of Jesus. Hundreds of years old black Christ, this statue was not paraded to discourage an even larger crowd while lingering fears of COVID-19.

The more than 80,000 worshipers who church officials say have joined the nearly six-kilometer (3.7-mile) “Walk of Faith” parade are a small fraction of the more than one million worshipers that have typically gathered over the years. before the pandemic to pay homage to life. about the size of the Black Nazarene statue at one of Asia’s largest religious festivals.

In the chaotic dawn-to-midnight parades of the past, when the Black Nazarene was paraded in a rope-drawn carriage, the crowds were mostly poor, barefoot, shirt-clad devotees. chestnut-colored lashes will squeeze through the crowd around the slow-moving chariot to throw towels to volunteers, who wipe parts of the statue in the belief that the Nazarene’s power will cure disease and ensure good health as well as a better life.

Without the Nazarenes, Sunday’s procession from a historic park by Manila Bay to a church in the Quiapo district was orderly but still tense, with many worshipers murmuring prayers and others singing and chanting “Nazareno” prayer as they paraded. Many carry copies of religious icons. The procession, which began after midnight Mass, was completed in less than three hours.

Church officials in Quiapo, where the statue of the Nazarene is worshiped year-round, brought the statue to the stands at Rizal Park ahead of Sunday’s procession to allow worshipers to pray before the statue until weekends until Monday, when the annual Black Nazarene festival takes place. be held. Kissing the statue is banned due to concerns that the act could spread the COVID-19 epidemic.

The religious Nazarene procession has been suspended at the height of the COVID-19 outbreak for the past two years in the Philippines, one of the countries hardest hit by the pandemic in Southeast Asia. Church officials have decided not to march the Nazarenes this year as a precaution, even after the pandemic subsides, but held the religious parade as an alternative at a difficult time economically. and social spread.

Police have been put on alert and deployed thousands of staff to ensure the safety of the country’s largest gathering and remind devotees not to gather in large numbers for health reasons.

The statue of the Nazarene is said to have been brought from Mexico to Manila on a sailing ship in 1606 by Spanish missionaries. The ship carrying it caught fire, but the charred statue survived. Many devotees believe that the statue’s endurance, in the face of centuries of fires and earthquakes and the fierce bombings of World War II, is a testament to its miraculous power.

The scene reflects the unique nature of Catholicism, including folk superstitions, in Asia’s largest Catholic country. Dozens of Filipinos nailed themselves to crosses on Good Friday in an unusual tradition to simulate the suffering of Christ, which attracts crowds of devotees and tourists each year.


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