Somber celebration of Black Nazarene feast in Bohol town
TAGBILARAN CITY—It was supposed to be the merriest feast of the Black Nazarene as his arrival at the top of the mountain in Garcia Hernandez town in Bohol turned a decade on Saturday.
But the COVID-19 pandemic has upended the plans.
The effusive celebration with a banquet as a highlight was canceled.
On Saturday, the feast of the Black Nazarene still pushed through in the Bohol Calvary in Barangay Malinao in Garcia Hernandez town, about 53 kilometers from Tagbilaran City.
Around 200 devotees walked three kilometers to the Bohol Calvary to visit a small chapel that housed an image of the revered icon.
They were asked to wear face masks and to register for possible contact tracing.
“This year’s celebration is somber and quiet,” said Necy Galendez, a devotee for five years.
A Mass for the feast of the Nazarene was celebrated by Fr. Felix Cleopas Silagan.
Unlike previous celebrations where devotees stayed for a free banquet, devotees went home after the Mass.
Kissing the image of Black Nazarene and the “patunob,” a ritual of touching the heads and shoulders of devotees with the image of the Nazarene, were also canceled. Chapel personnel covered the image with plastic so devotees won’t be able to touch it to prevent the spread of the virus.
For devotees, the measures were necessary and it did not in any way eliminate the fervor, devotion, and faith of those who celebrate the feast of the Black Nazarene.
“Due to COVID-19 restrictions, only a few devotees were able to attend but our faith in the Black Nazarene is still strong,” said Josefina Galindez,a devotee.
The image of the Black Nazarene was brought to Garcia Hernandez town by visionary Marina Tadlip Reblinca in 2011.
A chapel was subsequently built to house the image.
Reblinca transformed the place into a mountain retreat for prayer and healing and a destination for pilgrims.
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