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A closeup of the statue f the Black Nazarene. A closeup of the statue f the Black Nazarene.  (AFP or licensors)

Manila's Black Nazarene novena kicks off with year-end procession

Manila staged a year-end thanksgiving procession that also marked the start of the novena for the feast the Black Nazarene.

By Robin Gomes

Despite a rain , a year-end thanksgiving procession of an image of a black Jesus of Nazareth carrying His cross drew close to 20,000 people in the central district of the Philippine capital Manila in the early hours of Dec. 31.

The devotion on the last day of the year included the singing of the “Te Deum”, the traditional Latin hymn of praise and thanksgiving.

The event also marked the start of the novena or nine days of religious observance in preparation for the feast of the Black Nazarene on Jan. 9. 

“We tried to make the thanksgiving procession more solemn at the beginning and the conclusion was more prayerful and orderly,” said Monsignor Hernando Coronel, rector of the Minor Basilica of the Black Nazarene in Manila's Quiapo district.

He noted with satisfaction that more young people attended the procession, saying it is positive sign especially with 2019 declared by the Filipino Church as the Year of Youth in preparation for 5 th centenary celebration of the arrival of the Gospel in the Philippine archipelago 2021.

The Black Nazarene is a  life-sized, dark-coloured , wooden sculpture of Jesus Christ that was brought to Manila by Augustinian priests in 1607.

Tradition holds that it got its colour after it was burned in a fire on the Spanish galleon transporting it.

Monsignor Coronel said the religious procession, which is held before the traditional feast of the Black Nazarene, is held at the end of every year "to give thanks to God."

The annual “ traslacion ”, or transfer of the Black Nazarene to the basilica from Manila's old walled city on January 9, draws millions of devotees from across the country who walk with the image in a procession that lasts up to 20 hours.

On December 31, devotees pushed and jostled in attempts to get near the carriage bearing the statue of the Black Nazarene, which they believe performs miracles.

Those who were not able to attend the early morning procession shared their messages on the social media page of the basilica.

Metro Manila police said they expect over 2.5 million devotees to attend next week’s procession of the Black Nazarene.  They said last year it took the devotees an estimated 23 hours to bring the Black Nazarene to the Quiapo church.  Over 7,200 uniformed personnel are being deployed for the event this year.

02 January 2019, 15:17