HomeChurch & AsiaBlack Nazarene devotees flock to Manila’s Quiapo district

Black Nazarene devotees flock to Manila’s Quiapo district

The “Traslacion” (literally transfer), or procession of the Black Nazarene, in Manila, is one of the most extravagant displays of Filipino popular piety, with millions of people taking part each year.

For years, devotees of the dark image of a kneeling Jesus carrying his cross have perfected ways to control and manage the chaotic procession.

After three years of limitations on religious activities, including the Traslacion, due to the Covid-19 pandemic, Church officials, and Catholic devotees are now back to venerating the charred image of Jesus Christ.



This year, Church leaders implemented measures to ensure the safety of the devotees and the image of the Black Nazarene during the Traslacion. 

The life-sized image is now encased in laminated tempered glass and climbing onto the carriage is deemed prohibited.

Many Filipinos believe the icon has miraculous healing powers and that touching it, or the ropes attached to its float, can heal previously incurable ailments and bring good fortune to them and their loved ones.

People try to get near and touch the image, while those who pull the carriage of the icon ensure that the procession proceeds amid the throng of riotous devotees.

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The Traslacion procession recalls the 1787 transfer of the image of the Black Nazarene from an Augustinian church in the old walled city of Manila to the basilica in the city’s Quiapo district.

The image of the Black Nazarene was supposedly made by a Mexican sculptor and was brought to Manila via a galleon from Acapulco, Mexico, on May 31, 1606.

Traditional accounts attribute the color of the image to votive candles burning before the image, although the most famous story is that it was charred by a fire on the galleon that brought it from Mexico.

The image was first enshrined in the Church of San Juan Bautista of the Augustinian Recollects in Bagumbayan in Manila until it was demolished in 1644.

In 1608, the image was transferred to the church of San Nicolas de Tolentino (popularly known as the “Recoletos Church”) inside Intramuros.

It was enshrined in the high altar until both the church and the image perished as a result of the bombardment and the flames of Manila during its liberation in 1945.

On Jan. 9, 1787, the Augustinian Recollects donated a copy of the image to the church in Quiapo. It started the tradition of the Traslacion of the image from the church of San Nicolas de Tolentino to Quiapo.

More than 15,000 security and medical personnel have been deployed along the route of the procession, which authorities estimated would attract over two million people as it crawled towards its destination, Quiapo Church. – with reports from Agence France-Presse

Catholic devotees climb into a glass-covered carriage carrying the so-called Black Nazarene statue as they try to touch it during an annual religious procession in Manila on January 9, 2024. – Hundreds of thousands of Catholic faithful swarmed a historic statue of Jesus Christ as it was pulled through the streets of the Philippine capital on January 9, in one of the world’s biggest displays of religious devotion. (Photo by Ted ALJIBE / AFP)
Catholic devotees hold the rope attached to a glass-covered carriage carrying the so-called Black Nazarene statue during an annual religious procession in Manila on January 9, 2024. – Hundreds of thousands of Catholic faithful swarmed a historic statue of Jesus Christ as it was pulled through the streets of the Philippine capital on January 9, in one of the world’s biggest displays of religious devotion. (Photo by Ted ALJIBE / AFP)
A Catholic devotee kisses the wooden cross of the so-called Black Nazarene statue during an annual religious procession in Manila on January 9, 2024. – Hundreds of thousands of Catholic faithful swarmed a historic statue of Jesus Christ as it was pulled through the streets of the Philippine capital on January 9, in one of the world’s biggest displays of religious devotion. (Photo by Ted ALJIBE / AFP)
A Catholic devotee wipes the glass of the carriage carrying the so-called Black Nazarene during an annual religious procession in Manila on January 9, 2024. – Hundreds of thousands of Catholic faithful swarmed a historic statue of Jesus Christ as it was pulled through the streets of the Philippine capital on January 9, in one of the world’s biggest displays of religious devotion. (Photo by JAM STA ROSA / AFP)
Catholic devotees jostle with each other as they try to touch a glass-covered carriage carrying the so-called Black Nazarene during an annual religious procession in Manila on January 9, 2024. – Hundreds of thousands of Catholic faithful swarmed a historic statue of Jesus Christ as it was pulled through the streets of the Philippine capital on January 9, in one of the world’s biggest displays of religious devotion. (Photo by JAM STA ROSA / AFP)
People help emergency personnel carry a Catholic devotee who passed out during an annual religious procession held in honour of the so-called Black Nazarene in Manila on January 9, 2024. – Hundreds of thousands of Catholic faithful swarmed a historic statue of Jesus Christ as it was pulled through the streets of the Philippine capital on January 9, in one of the world’s biggest displays of religious devotion. (Photo by Ted ALJIBE / AFP)
Catholic devotees follow a glass-covered carriage carrying the so-called Black Nazarene statue during an annual religious procession in Manila on January 9, 2024. – Hundreds of thousands of Catholic faithful swarmed a historic statue of Jesus Christ as it was pulled through the streets of the Philippine capital on January 9, in one of the world’s biggest displays of religious devotion. (Photo by JAM STA ROSA / AFP)
Catholic devotees dubbed as “Hijos” (Christ’s bodyguards) ride on the glass-covered carriage carrying the so-called Black Nazarene statue during an annual religious procession in Manila on January 9, 2024. – Hundreds of thousands of Catholic faithful swarmed a historic statue of Jesus Christ as it was pulled through the streets of the Philippine capital on January 9, in one of the world’s biggest displays of religious devotion. (Photo by Ted ALJIBE / AFP)
A Catholic devotee tries to touch a glass-covered carriage carrying the so-called Black Nazarene during an annual religious procession in Manila on January 9, 2024. – Hundreds of thousands of Catholic faithful swarmed a historic statue of Jesus Christ as it was pulled through the streets of the Philippine capital on January 9, in one of the world’s biggest displays of religious devotion. (Photo by JAM STA ROSA / AFP)
A Catholic devotee sits on top of a road sign while taking part in an annual religious procession held in honour of the so-called Black Nazarene in Manila on January 9, 2024. – Hundreds of thousands of Catholic faithful swarmed a historic statue of Jesus Christ as it was pulled through the streets of the Philippine capital on January 9, in one of the world’s biggest displays of religious devotion. (Photo by JAM STA ROSA / AFP)
A Catholic devotee gestures during an annual religious procession held in honour of the so-called Black Nazarene in Manila on January 9, 2024. – Hundreds of thousands of Catholic faithful swarmed a historic statue of Jesus Christ as it was pulled through the streets of the Philippine capital on January 9, in one of the world’s biggest displays of religious devotion. (Photo by JAM STA ROSA / AFP)

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