THE Black Nazarene of Quiapo in Manila has long had devotees through several generations who gather to witness and join the crush of people every January 9 of the year to celebrate the Translacion, referring to the transfer of the image to its present shrine in Quiapo Church.
As devoted to the Catholic Church as she is, Merceditas Tuason, Philippine Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary to the Holy See, was busy giving away Holy Salt and medallions of the Our Lady of Guadalupe urging guests during the groundbreaking of the 740-hectare Hijo Estates last Friday to say a prayer to the Black Nazarene.
Just after guests were ushered in to the airconditioned tent when the groundbreaking ceremony finished, the arrival of the Black Nazarene was announced. It's the Black Nazarene of Tagum City, a replica that came from Quiapo, which has a relic of the original, one of just seven black Nazarenes that have such relic.
While the Black Nazarene is more associated with Quiapo and its residents, there are actually devotees all over the country, who believe in the miracles of the Itim na Nazareno when you pray to it with all your heart.
The original statue arrived via a galleon ship from Acapulco in Mexico On May 31, 1606 as witnessed by the Recollect Priests.
It is said that it got its dark color from a fire on the ship that was carrying it.
It was Pope Innocent X who approved the veneration of the statue as a Sacramental and authorized the Confraternity of the Most Holy Jesus Nazarene (Spanish: Cofradia de Nuestro Santo Jesus Nazareno). That was in 1860 when Filipinos were not yet allowed to join Holy Orders and religious laymen were then formed into confraternities.
In 1880, Pope Pius VII gave the statue his Apostolic Blessing. This means that those who pray with all their heart to the statue is granted plenary indulgence.
As defined in the Code of Canon Law (can. 992) and in the Catechism of the Catholic Church (n. 1471): "An indulgence is a remission before God of the temporal punishment due to sins whose guilt has already been forgiven, which the faithful Christian who is duly disposed gains under certain prescribed conditions through the action of the Church which, as the minister of redemption, dispenses and applies with authority the treasury of the satisfactions of Christ and the saints".
To gain indulgence, a believer has to abide by certain prescribed conditions, for the Black Nazarene, the devotee piously pray to the Black Nazarene.
Further, in 2013, the Archdiocese of Manila declared pilgrim churches in the Diocese and Catholics may gain plenary indulgence when they visit at least five. Among the six pilgrim churches declared is the Minor Basilica of the Black Nazarene in Quiapo, Manila, further reinforcing the devotion to the Black Nazarene. The other churches declared as pilgrim churches were: the Saint John the Baptist Parish in Pinaglabanan Street, San Juan City, the Our Lady of Sorrows Parish in F.B. Harrison Street, Pasay City; the Archdiocesan Shrine of Divine Mercy in Maysilo Circle, Boni Avenue, Mandaluyong City; and the National Shrine of the Sacred Heart in Sacred Heart Street, San Antonio Village, Makati City.
Church records say there were two identical images of the Black Nazarene brought to Manila. According to http://blacknazarene.wikispaces.com/HISTORY, the first image was kept at the San Nicolas de Tolentino Church in Bagumbayan and transferred to Intramuros when the church was demolished. But it was bombed and destroyed in 1945 during the Battle of Manila. The second statue was given by the Recollect Priests to Quiapo Church, and this was the one that survived World War II. Some devotees, however, insists that this was the one destroyed during the war although Church records could not back this claim.
It was when the Black Nazarene was first brought to Tagum City when the Church learned that there were many devotees to the patron saint there.
Thus, the image was brought again last December 3, 2016, but this time to be a permanent "resident".
The city held its first Translacion last January 9, 2017. It gathered a crowd of around 5,000 males and females, underlining the fact that it is now the post-modern times where no distinction is made among genders.
Decades ago, only men were allowed to hold the ropes that pull the image's carriage during the Translacion in Quiapo. But female devotees have been participating in the recent years.
People believe that wiping ones handkerchief on the image can cure diseases, thus, during newscasts of the procession, you can see towels and cloths being thrown toward the image with the men on the carriage catching these, wiping these on the image, and then throwing these back to the crush of people.
At Hijos last Friday, a couple of laymen were handing out pieces of cloths printed with the prayer to the Black Nazarene and guests lining up to pray would wipe these on the image's hand and spend some seconds of minutes to pray.