FEAST OF THE BLACK NAZARENE
The #NationalMuseumPH joins our Filipino Christian brothers and sisters in the observance of the Feast of the Black Nazarene. Every 9th of January, thousands of devotees of Señor Nazareno traditionally join the “Traslación”, or the procession of the image of the Black Nazarene from the Quirino Grandstand to the Minor Basilica of the Black Nazarene, commonly known as the Quiapo Church in Manila.
The Traslación is a reenactment of the transfer of the Black Nazarene’s replica image from Intramuros to Quiapo Church in 1787. The original statue was initially brought to the Philippines by the Augustinian Recollects in 1606. Since then, the Traslación was held annually to commemorate the Black Nazarene’s first journey to its current home.
Before sunrise, devotees donned in maroon and yellow shirts wave white towels in the air while walking the 6.5 km route of the Traslación barefoot, a symbolic gesture that emulates Christ’s suffering as he was carrying his cross to Golgotha.
Despite the large crowd, devotees would attempt to hold and pull the rope of the Black Nazarene’s andas or carriage and throw their white towels and handkerchiefs to the Hijos del Señor Nazareno, who wipe the image with the cloth and throw these back to the crowd.
As it navigates the thoroughfares of Manila towards Quiapo Church, the carriage makes a stop at the San Sebastian Church for the Dungaw ritual (looking out at the window), where the image of Our Lady of Mount Carmel awaits to meet the Black Nazarene. The Traslación takes hours before the image reaches its destination due to the sea of people joining the procession. The longest duration of Traslación in recent history reached 22 hours, in 2012, 2017, and 2019.
Many devotees join the procession as part of their panata (vow). The panata is usually carried out as a plea to God or as thanksgiving for healing, blessing or granting of/granted wish. They believe that walking barefoot, wiping the image with the towels, holding and pulling the rope of the andas, and even climbing the carriage, will get them closer to achieving their prayers. The fervent devotion and faith shown by the devotees became a prime manifestation of the fusion of Catholic and secular beliefs and practices of Filipinos.
With the onset of the Covid-19 pandemic in 2020, the Traslación has been put to a halt. However, this did not discourage many devotees to flock to the Quiapo Church to attend the masses. Last year, the church livestreamed masses on its Facebook page following the capacity limits on religious gatherings.
Text and poster by the NMP Ethnology Division
© The National Museum of the Philippines (2022)