On Monday, one of Manila's biggest processions will take place: the Black Nazarene procession, a massive parade that trundles through the city streets once a year on January 9. The centerpiece of the parade is a life-size sculpture of Jesus Christ, decked up in glittery finery and put on a heavy caravan that is pulled by thousands of devotees on its set route.
This year, over eight million devotees are expected to attend the procession in Manila. The rector of the Minor Basilica of the Black Nazarene, Monsignor Clemente Ignacio, explained that it was a move up from the 7.5 million devotees who attended last year.
For Father Ignacio, the millions who attend believe that the suffering seen on the face of the Nazarene is intimately tied to their own troubles:
Asked why he thinks devotees of the Black Nazarene continue to increase, Ignacio said: "The Filipinos see themselves in the image of the suffering and struggling Black Nazarene. If you will notice the Black Nazarene is a snapshot of Jesus rising again after the fall... we will see there the resilience of the Filipinos, they never lose hope." (Philippine Star)
The procession has been going on annually since at least the 17th century. The ship that carried the statue burned on the way, giving the statue its toasted appearance. This did not deter the religious Catholic Filipinos of the time, though, and deeming its survival a miracle, the faithful of Manila have continued to revere the statue to this day.
Miracles have been attributed to the statue - handkerchiefs wiped on the statue's face are said to gain miraculous powers, and religious folk who feel blessed by the Nazarene in some way take a vow (panata) to march in the parade alongside the teeming crowds. (CARM.org)
To see pictures of the procession on the move, see our Image Gallery of the Black Nazarene procession.
All image courtesy of Getty Images.