THE Catholic Church’s iconic Black Nazarene image will have a new carriage design as it embarks on a new mission following the return of its “Traslacion” or grand procession on Tuesday, January 9, 2024, in the capital Manila after a three-year break due to the pandemic.
For this year, the life-size image of the statue will be wheeled in laminated tempered glass carriage to go with this year’s theme “Ibig naming makita si Hesus” (We want to see Jesus) based on the Gospel of St. John 12:21.
“Our mission is to let the Image of the Black Nazarene be seen, not only to those who are waiting at the roadside during the procession but also to everyone,” said Bong Grajo, operations director of Nazareno 2024 at the Quiapo Church.
Following the recommendation of the government authorities, Grajo said they would use only one lane for the devotees who would wait for the passing of the carriage.
“Like during the papal visit in the country, we will have one lane while the other lane will be clean and unobstructed,” he said.
“New carriage, new mission, new guidelines,” Grajo told reporters during a press conference in Manila on January 4.
He urged the Catholic faithful who would join the celebration to be calm and avoid pushing each other during the “Traslacion.”
The Black Nazarene feast, dubbed as one of the biggest religious celebrations in the country, will start at the Quirino Grandstand in Luneta on January 8 toward the Quiapo Church.
About two million devotees are expected to attend the celebration, which includes a midnight Mass to be officiated by the Archbishop of Manila, Jose Cardinal Advincula on January 9.
Following the Eucharistic mass, a morning prayer will happen on January 9 before “Traslacion” commences at 6 a.m.
In anticipation of the swelling crowd of Catholic faithful during the event, Manila Mayor Honey Lacuna-Pangan announced over 15,000 security and police personnel will be deployed to maintain the peace and security of the celebration.
“We have already discussed that if the health improves, we can continue the Traslacion. As early as last year it was prepared, to pursue the procession that is holy, orderly, and safe,” said the Manila mayor during the same press conference.
To ensure health and safety during the festivities, the mayor also asked the attendees to wear masks.
President Ferdinand Marcos Jr. has declared January 9 as a special non-working day in Manila “to give way for the observance of the Feast of the Black Nazarene.”
“Let the spirit of the Black Nazarene inspire us to discover our inner strength and a new sense of hope and purpose,” Marcos said in a statement on January 8.
Meanwhile, Quiapo Church authorities reminded the devotees that climbing onto the carriage is no longer allowed for the safety of other devotees.
Church officials, however, said that devotees are allowed to throw handkerchiefs or towels so these can be wiped on the 400-year-old image of the Black Nazarene.
They can also pull on the ropes of the carriage.
In the past, Catholic faithful who believed that touching and kissing the image of the Black Nazarene would bring them miracles, would climb onto the carriage, making it their specific goal during the procession.
In 2011 alone, over 500 devotees sustained injuries during the grand procession due to overcrowding.
In 2016, at least two Nazareno devotees died due to a fatal heart attack while waiting for the procession.
Father Jesus Madrid Jr., parochial vicar of the Quiapo Church, earlier reminded the elderly, vulnerable individuals, and children to keep their position on the sidewalks where the grand procession would be passing for their security.
“Before the Traslacion starts, don't forget to eat well so that you have enough energy to join the Traslacion),” the prelate said in a report from state-media Philippine News Agency. (Ronald O. Reyes/SunStar Philippines)