Millions turn up for resumed Nazarene feast commemoration in Manila

(REUTERS/Erik de Castro)Penitents hang on crosses as they are crucified during Good Friday Lenten rites in Cutud, San Fernando Pampanga in northern Philippines April 22, 2011.

Millions of Roman Catholic devotees, turned up for this year's feast of the Black Nazarene in Manila after three years of restrictions due to the global COVID-19 pandemic.

Every year, on Jan. 9 the life-sized statue representing Jesus bent under the weight of the Cross, is transferred in a parade though the Filipino capital.

It goes from the original site, the church of St . Nicola da Tolentino, to the parish of Quiapo, concluding a novena started on Dec. 31, says Vatican News.

A mammoth crowd, mostly barefoot devotees, packed the city's streets to witness the traditional procession or "Traslacion" of the Nazarene image from the Quirino Grandstand to Quiapo Church on Jan 9, said CBCP News, carried by

Organizers reported that as many as 6.1 million people attended the event which started with a midnight Mass presided over by Cardinal Jose Advincula at the grandstand until the return of the image to Quiapo.

CBCP said that an estimated 939,000 people were at the grandstand, approximately 3.2 million joined the procession, and around 1.9 million were at the Quiapo Church.

The procession lasted 15 hours, marking the fastest time in the history of the Traslacion, which commemorates the transfer of the image more than 400 years ago.

In 2012, the longest Traslacion on record lasted 22 hours, albeit following a different and longer route.

Alex Irasga, the church's lay adviser for the Traslacion, said the image returned to the church "very clean and without any damage".

The life-size statue of the dark-skinned Jesus Christ debuted in a glass case for the procession after the ceremony's three-year absence.

Of the Philippines population of just over 116 million people 79 percent are Roman Catholics, 6.4 percent Muslims, and about 6.6 percent Christians following other traditions and denominations, according to the CIA Factbook.

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