All quiet in Quiapo again as Black Nazarene feast goes online
MANILA, Philippines — With physical Masses suspended for this year’s Feast of the Black Nazarene, Quiapo’s usually rowdy scene became quite uneventful, as policemen kept the area peaceful and almost somber on the eve of this occasion.
Yet followers of the Black Nazarene continued to demonstrate their devotion outside Quiapo Church as if defying the stillness imposed by the pandemic.
Photos posted on Quiapo Church’s social media page showed them reciting their prayers, while elsewhere in this historic Manila district, residents displayed banners and replicas of the Black Nazarene outside their homes.
Brig. Gen. Leo Francisco, Manila Police District director, told dzBB on Sunday that devotees really wanted to have a glimpse of the image even if the church was closed and Masses were only available online.
Some people gathered at nearby Sta. Cruz Church early Sunday morning because they thought a Mass would be held there. They were turned away by the police.
The National Capital Region Police Office set up checkpoints on roads leading to Quiapo, and some 2,000 policemen were deployed before sunrise.
Despite the restrictions on this event, President Rodrigo Duterte on Sunday called for continued devotion to the Black Nazarene.
“Although we may not be able to take part in the usual Traslacion [procession] that has marked [this] celebration for centuries, let us keep on demonstrating our faith by praying for our country’s recovery and for humanity’s complete healing, especially from the ill effects of the COVID-19 pandemic,” he said in his message on Sunday.
Mr. Duterte described the march that was not taking place this year as “a precious time for every devotee to understand the value of suffering and its saving grace.”
Aside from the Traslacion, which usually starts from Rizal Park and goes through the district, church authorities also canceled physical Masses at the Minor Basilica of the Black Nazarene, where the sacred image has been enshrined since 1787.
The online celebrations have also been held in homes in Metro Manila and other far enough regions which have a considerable following of the Black Nazarene, as these areas were placed last week under alert level 3 due to the post-holiday surge of COVID-19 cases.
This time Black Nazarene commemorations were centered around replicas of the image in Metro Manila, the provinces, and Filipino communities abroad.
‘The one visiting’
The government has also called for the cancellation this year of other festivals, such as the Sinulog, Ati-Atihan, and Dinagyang, as well as the Chinese New Year, in an effort to stop the spread of COVID-19.
“As a predominantly Catholic nation, may we remain united in spirit and in truth as we continue to build a nation that is truly blessed with peace, prosperity, love, and goodwill for all,” the president said in his message.
Cardinal Jose Advincula, Manila archbishop, kept the occasion of the feast alive in his 4 a.m. online Mass.
“I know a lot of you are saddened for not being able to go near the image of the Black Nazarene here at Quiapo Church. Although not all of us can visit here, the Señor himself is the one visiting our families and our homes,” he said.
“He understands those who are suffering from their illness and those stuck in quarantine. He feels the weariness and stress of the health workers, understands the perseverance of the poor, and sees the sacrifices of the honest public servants,” Advincula also said.
—WITH A REPORT FROM JEROME ANING
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