Philippine Govt Health Protocols Mean No Grand Procession During ‘Traslacion’ for 3rd Time

It’s a no-go for Traslacion’s grand procession for the third straight year.

With threats of COVID-19 transmission still hanging over everyone’s head, the parish priest of Quiapo Church announced the suspension of the grand procession in the 2023 ‘Traslacion’ or the Feast of the Black Nazarene.

All Else Is OK

Fr. Earl Valdez, the parish priest of Quiapo Church where the image of the Black Nazarene resides, explained that all the other activities traditionally held during the Feast of the Black Nazarene would proceed as planned.

An news article noted that the traditional ‘Pahalik’ or kissing of the feet of the Nazarene’s image would be modified a bit. Instead of the devotees kissing the feet as a show of reverence and faith, they would only be allowed to touch the Nazarene’s feet.

Meanwhile, the annual grand procession that serves as the highlight of the occasion would be scrapped anew.

The Traslacion traditionally begins at the Quirino Grandstand in nearby Luneta Park and ends at Quiapo Church, the home of the Black Nazarene image. The decades-long Filipino religious tradition typically lasts 22 hours from when the crowd leaves Quirino Grandstand to when it enters Quiapo Church.

The news report noted that the tradition is a reenactment of the 1987 Traslacion or the transfer of the image from its original shrine in the old Bagumbayan (present-day Rizal Park) to its present and permanent home in Quiapo Church.

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History of the Black Nazarene

According to Catholic News Agency (CNA), the Augustinian missionaries from Mexico brought the image of the Black Nazarene to Manila in 1606. They enshrined it in the St. John the Baptist Church located at Luneta.

It was in 1767 when church authorities and devotees transferred the image via solemn procession from the original shrine to Quiapo Church, whose patron saint is also St. John the Baptist.

In 2006, the Quiapo Church celebrated the 400th year of the Black Nazarene’s arrival in the Philippines, particularly in Manila.

Minor Basilica of the Black Nazarene‘s Rector Msgr. Jose Clemente Ignacio explained that aside from the literal transfer of the image, the yearly Traslacion also symbolizes another, albeit religious, transfer.

“‘Traslacion’ means the transfer of the Image of Black Nazarene. In a way it is imitating the Calvary experience: the sacrifice and suffering that our Lord endured for our salvation like when Jesus was walking barefoot, carrying the cross to Mount Calvary,” Ignacio told CNA.

Monsignor Clemente added that Black Nazarene devotees traditionally accompany the image barefooted. The grand procession of roughly 4.3 miles passes through Manila’s narrow streets from its starting point at the Quirino Grandstand. The entire procession takes 19 to 22 hours on average.

The grand procession is traditionally led by a group called Hijos del Nazareno or “Children of the Nazareno.”

The Hijos are seen as vanguards of the Black Nazarene and can be seen receiving the white cloths thrown by fellow devotees. The Hijos typically rub the cloths on the Nazarene and throw them back to their owners.

 “Our culture is a culture of touch and, significantly, in a way we want to touch heaven,” Ignacio explained. 

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