Thousands of Filipinos join Black Nazarene procession

filipinos join black nazarene procession

Hundreds of thousands of Filipino Catholics walked barefoot around the streets of Manila on Friday to follow the Black Nazarene in a massive religious procession.

The devotees took turns to pull a pair of ropes that hauled the 402-year-old dark-skinned statue of Jesus Christ, believing it has miraculous powers to cure illnesses and take away sins.

Those who cannot get near the statue throw white towels to the men carrying it. The towels are then wiped on the statue, and given back into the crowd.

This religious festival has been held for more than 200 years, attracting close to a million people every year. It took a different route this year to give the devotees more space and reduce the chance of stampede.

The Philippine National Red Cross treated at least 227 devotees during the day-long procession. These people suffered from exhaustion, dehydration and hypertension in the crush of the crowd.

The Black Nazarene was brought to Manila from Mexico by a Spanish priest in 1607 and was said to have survived a fire while aboard the ship. The figure was burned but was preserved, which explains its color. On January 9 every year, the statue is carried from the Quiapo Church to downtown Manila.

The Philippines, Asia’s most predominantly Christian nation, is 80 percent Catholic.