viva senor!

last January 9 marked the 400th anniversary of the Black Nazarene.

i was fortunate to have a free schedule in the morning (but not in the afternoon), so i took the opportunity to photograph.

Quirino Grandstand was packed even at six in the morning. i’d say the attending devotees numbered in the thousands, which rose to the hundred thousands in the afternoon during the procession back to Quiapo church.

As an aside:

contrary to tradition, the image was displayed at the grandstand instead of its ‘home’ at Quiapo Church. this was done in anticipation of the multitude of devotees who will flock to the feast; to prevent deaths caused by stampede as had been the case in previous years.

devotees bring white towels, which they use to wipe the statue of the Black Nazerene. they believe that by touching the statue (via their towels), they will be healed by the power of Christ. note: there is a story in the bible where a sick person touched the mantle of Christ and was healed.

devotees of the Black Nazarene wave white towels and small replicas of the Black Nazarene while chanting ‘Viva Senor’ during the mass presided by Archibishop of Manila Cardinal Rosales.

The Black Nazarene is a statue of a dark-skinned Jesus Christ, carrying a cross. it was brought by the Spanish exactly 400 years ago this year. the image was brought to different churches until it finally found it’s permanent residence at Quiapo Church in 1787 under the order of Archbishop of Manila.

devotees throw white towels to those guarding the statue. they in turn, wipe the image using the towels and throw them back to the owners. it is believed that the healing power of Christ is transferred to the towel, which the devotees can bring home.

Since then, thousands of Filipinos became fervent devotees of the Black Christ. And every January 9, the statue is placed atop a gilded carriage (carosa) and paraded in the winding streets of Quiapo where hundreds and thousands of devotees await in anticipation, if not join in the procession as well.

The carriage is pulled by groups of male devotees clothed in maroon. These devotees are fulfilling a ‘panata’ or an oath. They usually take these oaths as a way of paying back to the Black Christ who has performed miracles in their lives.

abaca rope (similar to those used in shipyards) are securely attached to the carriage in preparation for the procession going back to Quiapo Church at noon.

apart from the main statue, which was placed at Quirino Grandstand, some devotees also pull their own replicas of the Black Nazarene through the streets of Quiapo.

devotees fulfilling an oath or ‘panata’ walk barefooted (during the entire procession) on the burning asphalt under the noon time sun.

Some years ago, there was an incident of someone firing a .45cal bullet into the statue. As such, beginning 1998, only the replica of the original statue of the Black Nazarene is paraded through the streets.


it was unfortunate that i wasn’t able to witness the procession going back to Quiapo church as I had a shoot in the afternoon.

Next year, if my schedule permits, I will try to photograph the procession of the main statue through the streets.

Viva Senor!


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