MANILA, June 25, 2015 – Like a visible reminder of the church’s “lesser known” heavenly patron, as well as of the need for conversion, a life-size statue of San Juan Bautista—St. John the Baptist—which stands just outside the Minor Basilica of the Black Nazarene as though “blessing” passersby, was inaugurated on his feast day, June 24, by retired Manila Archbishop Gaudencio B. Cardinal Rosales, coinciding with the 444th foundation anniversary of the City of Manila.
Symbol of repentance, conversion
Created by veteran sculptor Eduardo Castrillo, whose other works include the “Stations of the Cross” hanging on the inside walls of Quiapo Church, the statue is a joint project of the minor basilica and Ateneo de Manila’s Seminario de San José, and is dedicated to all devotees of the Black Nazarene.
Loosely translated into English, part of the plaque posted on the base of the St. John sculpture reads: “Erected at Plaza Carriedo, let this statue be a reminder to all who come to this shrine of the God who calls them for repentance.”
It adds, “Let this also be a sign and a witness to the unwavering faith of Filipinos who persevere in their devotion to our Blessed Lord Jesus the Nazarene since the 17th century.”
The plaque also displays a verse taken from John 1:23, which echoes the Great Forerunner’s bold proclamation about himself: “Ako ang tinig ng isang taong sumisigaw sa ilang. Tuwirin ninyo ang daraanan ng Panginoon [I am the voice of one crying out in the desert. Make straight the way of the Lord].”
While more famous simply as Quiapo Church, the official, canonical name of this iconic religious landmark is Parish of St. John the Baptist. (Raymond A. Sebastián/CBCP News)