Feast of the Black Nazarene

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Every January 9 at Quipo Church in Manila, The Black Nazarene, a life-sized statue of Christ is carried through town by barefooted men yelling, "Viva Seņor, while huge crowd tries to touch the statu. The statue was bought by a priest in Mexico and brought it to Manila in 1606. Since 1787 the statue has been housed at Saint John the Baptist Church in Quiapo. For more than 200 years the church has been placing the statue on a gilded carriage every January and pulling it through the streets of Quiapo. People who touch it are reported to sometimes be healed of diseases. Catholics come from all over Manila on the chance that they will be able to get close enough to touch the image and perhaps receive a miracle. They also throw towels to the police who guard the statue and ask them to rub the towel on the statue in hopes of carrying some of that power away with them...

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The statue is also brought out on Good Friday.

If you decide to take part in the event, be prepared. Most in the crowd go barefoot as a sign of humility as they follow the statue. A few dozen people a year pass out and must be taken away by ambulance. And there is at least a small risk of being trampled.

The feast and procession, though, are a truly Filipino experience.

Traveler's Philippine Companion by Kirsten Ellis

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