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Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Feast of the Black Nazarene, Quiapo, Manila


The Black Nazarene, known to devotees as Nuestro Padre Jesus Nazareno de Quiapo ("Our Father Jesus Nazarene of Quiapo"), is a life-sized, dark-coloured, wooden sculpture of Jesus Christ, held to be miraculous by many Filipino devotees. The Black Nazarene is currently enshrined in the Minor Basilica of the Black Nazarene in Quiapo, Manila, Philippines. The Feast of the Black Nazarene is celebrated every January 9 with the weekly Friday Masses held in its honour beginning on the first Friday of the year.

History
The statue's original carver is an anonymous Mexican carpenter, and the image arrived in the archipelago by galleon from Acapulco, Mexico. Folk tradition attributes the colour of the Black Nazarene to a fire on the ship carrying it, charring the image from its original fair tone into its present dark complexion.

The image was brought to the Philippines by the Augustinian Recollect Missionaries on May 31, 1606. It was initially enshrined in the first Recollect church in Bagumbayan (now part of Rizal Park). On September 10, 1606, the church was inaugurated and placed under the patronage of St. John the Baptist. In 1608, the image was transferred to the second bigger Recollect church of San Nicolas de Tolentino built in Intramuros. Between 1767 and 1790, the Archbishop of Manila, Basilio Sancho de Santas Justa y Rufina, ordered the transfer of the Black Nazarene to its present location within the Quiapo church.

Today, the image borne in procession consists of the original body of the Black Nazarene connected to a replica of the head, while the original head portion of the statue remains on a replica of the body enshrined within the high altar of the basilica. An exception to this setup was during the 2007 feast, where both the original head and the body were combined in celebration of the Black Nazarene's 400 year history.

Devotion
Veneration of the Black Nazarene stems from the overall importance Filipino culture has for the Passion of Jesus. Many devotees of the Black Nazarene identify their poverty and daily struggles to the wounds and tribulations experienced by Jesus, as represented by the image. Although the patron saint of the basilica itself is Saint John the Baptist, the consecration of the Black Nazarene has gained popularity because Jesus Christ is the centre of the devotion, bypassing intercession through a saint.

Devotion to the miraculous Nuestro Padre Jesús Nazareno attracted huge following among the populace. Popularity, initially at the northern and southern provinces of Luzon, spread over time throughout the country.

The uniquely Filipino devotion to the Black Nazarene merited the sanction and encouragement of two popes. In 1650, Pope Innocent X gave his pontifical blessing with a Papal Bull that canonically established the Confraternity of the Most Holy Black Christ Nazarene (Cofradia de Santo Cristo Jesús Nazareno) and Pope Pius VII gave his second blessing in the 19th century, by granting plenary indulgence to those who piously pray before the image of the Black Nazarene of Quiapo.

Devotees pay homage to the Black Nazarene by clapping their hands in praise at the end of Mass performed at the Minor Basilica of the Black Nazarene.

Note: This is No. 7 of a series of articles on Philippine Festivals and Fiestas.

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