Procession of the Black Nazarene 2016

The image of the Black Nazarene is believed to have performed miraculous acts of healing. But the 410-year-old image is not only known to be the spring of renewed life, but also the source of livelihood for many. Every January, the already buzzing Quiapo, home of the Black Nazarene and religious paraphernalia, along with cheap cameras, jewelry, and other goods, comes alive as the annual Traslación (the solemn transfer to the Minor Basilica from its original location in what is now Rizal Park) approaches. This year, Traslación, held every the 9th of the month, falls on a Saturday. The Traslacion commemorates the time when the image was transferred from Intramuros to Quiapo in 1791. While the event is popularly known as the feast of the Nazarene, the actual feast day of the carrying of the cross is celebrated every Good Friday.

According to the website of the Minor Basilica of the Black Nazarene, the statue is attributed to the work of an unknown Mexican artist who painted the image of Christ in dark brownish-molato color, similar to the color of his own skin. The statue was called Black Nazarene because its color turned darker when it arrived in the Philippines. “Luckily, this color is in keeping with the taste for the Filipinos who consciously or unconsciously fall for the dark colored statues like those if the Virgin of Antipolo. The Virgin of Peñafrancia and others,” the website read. Thousands of barefooted devotees wearing maroon and yellow join the procession and push their way to the carriage of the statue despite the possibility of a stampede. They believe that touching the image will heal them physically and spiritually, a form of popular religiosity or expression of faith by Catholics. Several commentators have pointed out that Filipinos can relate with the sufferings of the Black Nazarene, whom Christians believe had to be crucified to save humanity from sin.

Two devotees died on Saturday morning during the Black Nazarene procession joined by millions of people in Manila. Gwendolyn Pang, secretary-general of the Philippine Red Cross, said a victim was resting with a friend after pulling the rope of the Black Nazarene's carriage when he suffered a seizure and collapsed. Pang said the victim collapsed at around 11:30 a.m. She said that according to a companion, the victim had a liver ailment. "After performing a CPR at lahat ng revival measures, 'di na na-revive," she said, adding that the patient had no pulse and was unconscious when brought to their field office. The first victim was identified as Alex Fulyedo, 27, a resident of Sampaloc district in Manila. Pang said the victim's body was brought to the Ospital ng Maynila. But a later report said Fulyedo was the second fatality because earlier at 2 a.m. a certain Mauro Arabit, 58, was reported to have died of acute coronary syndrome or a condition where the blood supply to the heart muscle is being blocked.
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