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Jan 9 - The worlds largest procession in Manila

Updated: May 11


In todays pod we go back to year 1787 and travel to Philippines where in Manila a life-sized image of a dark-skinned, kneeling Jesus Christ, carrying the Cross was moved to Quiapo church where it is has remained ever since. This statue, popularly known as the Black Nazarene is brought out in procession three times a year and attracts some of the largest crowds in the world for a religious procession. The carving had been made by an unknown Mexican from dark wood and then transported to the Philippines from Acapulco by a Spanish Galleon in 1606. It has inspired huge devotion from local people and in 1650, find out more below .....

It’s the 9th of January and on this day in Christian History we go back to year 1787 and travel to Philippines where in Manila a life-sized image of a dark-skinned, kneeling Jesus Christ, carrying the Cross was moved to Quiapo church where it is has remained ever since. This statue, popularly known as the Black Nazarene is brought out in procession three times a year and attracts some of the largest crowds in the world for a religious procession. The carving had been made by an unknown Mexican from dark wood and then transported to the Philippines from Acapulco by a Spanish Galleon in 1606.

It has inspired huge devotion from local people and in 1650, Pope Innocent X granted recognition to the lay Confraternity of Santo Cristo Jesús Nazareno for the promotion of the devotion to Jesus through the icon. Famous throughout the Philippines and now around the world due to the Filipino diaspora, the army of Foreign Overseas Workers, it is considered by many Filipino Catholics to be miraculous; its mere touch reputed to cure disease. This is controversial, and many outsiders consider this to be idolatorou. However. according to Jose Clemente Ignacio, the rector of Quiapo this is a misunderstanding of the local people. He says ‘The procession and devotion is not idolatry, rather it is a reflection of the Filipino trait to want to wipe, touch, kiss, or embrace sacred objects if possible", and it is just a belief in "the presence of the Divine in sacred objects and places"


The Philippines, a nation of over seven thousand islands in the Western Pacific was a Spanish Colony since 1565 and due to this is the most Catholic country in Asia. It became the first foreign colony of the United States, after it declared independence from the British. The USA purchased the Philippines from Spain for 20 million dollars at the conclusion of the Filipino Revolution in 1898, and then five years later they spent another $7,293,000 purchasing the ‘Friar Lands’ from the Vatican.


January Ninth marks the solemn translation of the icon in 1787, and to commemorated this the ‘Nazareno’ is brought out of the shrine in a procession that attracts millions of people and last for up to 22 hours. The seven kilometre route sees the Black Nazarene enthroned on his 'carroza', a golden red carriage, pulled by male devotees who are barefoot and wear the maroon colour of the Black Nazarene’s robes. The procession, can see people crushed to death in the outpouring of frantic devotion it inspires. Some of its popularity is attributed to darkness of Christs skin, which makes him seem a lot closer to the local people than the white skinned Christ often portrayed by European Artists. Traditional accounts attribute the colour of the image to votive candles burning before the image, although the most widespread belief is that it was charred by fire on the galleon that brought it from Mexico. A theologian from the Loyola School of Theology notes that the image was not charred but in fact dark through to its core, as it was carved from mesquite wood as this type of wood was a popular medium in the period the image was carved.