Manila gears up for massive crowds on Black Nazarene feast

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Thousands of devotees join the thanksgiving procession of the Black Nazarene in Quiapo, Manila on Dec. 31, 2015. (Maria Tan)

MANILA, Jan. 5, 2016— Millions of devotees are expected to join this year’s feast of the Black Nazarene as Church and government officials believe the number could surpass previous records.

Msgr. Hernando Coronel, rector of Quiapo Church, said Catholics devoted to the Black Nazarene are growing and devotees who flock to the procession are increasing every year.

“Our experience here in the Philippines is that the number of devotees increase each year,” Msgr. Coronel said in a press briefing on Tuesday.

More than 1,500 policemen would be deployed to secure one of the country’s biggest religious processions.

Manila Police District Director Rolando Nana called on devotees not to bring backpacks, bull caps, pointed umbrellas and expensive jewelries.

Elderly, pregnant women, persons with disabilities and children are also discouraged to join the procession.

After declaring Jan. 9 as non-working holiday, Manila Mayor Joseph Estrada also called off classes in all levels on Saturday as several roads will be closed for the day-long “traslacion”.

Msgr. Coronel appealed to the devotees cooperate with authorities, be sensitive to other people and hold orderly procession from Quirino Grandstand to Quiapo Church.

“Let us all have a more meaningful celebration of the feast of the Black Nazarene more than participating in the actual procession,” said Coronel.

The procession, which will traverse the same route as last year, will be preceded by the “Pahalik” or the veneration of the Black Nazarene image on Jan. 8 at 8 a.m while the overnight vigil will start at 7 p.m.

At 12 midnight of Jan. 9, a Mass to be presided over by Msgr. Coronel will be held with Cardinal Luis Antonio Tagle as the homilist.

Cardinal Tagle will then lead the Liturgy of the Hours at 5 a.m. to be immediately followed by the procession.

For devotees abroad and those who can’t join this year’s procession, Quiapo parish is live streaming the celebration at its website, www.quiapochurch.com.

And in order to prepare oneself for the feast, Msgr. Coronel urged the faithful to attend novena masses at the Quiapo Church, go to confession, and join in the prayers.

The wooden Black Nazarene, carved in Mexico and brought to Manila in the early 17th century, is cherished by Catholics who believe it performs miracles. (CBCPNews)

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