Nazarene statues on feast day subject to height limit
Devotees may still come with their own Black Nazarene statues on the feast day next month, but the images are now subject to a height limit.
The administration of Quiapo Church, formally known as the Minor Basilica of the Black Nazarene, said statues that the pilgrims intend to take with them for the January rites should not exceed 0.6 meters (2 feet) and be small enough to be hand-carried.
The restriction was apparently intended to prevent situations where larger copies of the icon may be mistaken for the original, life-size statue during the occasion that draws mammoth, frenzied crowds each year.
“Some devotees might think [the larger statues] are part of the procession and might cause disorder, so we want to avoid that,” said Alex Irasga, a parish lay adviser, as quoted in a statement issued by the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of the Philippines on Thursday.
“You can bring images that can be handled by one person. We will not prevent that. But for those more than two feet, which cannot be carried by a single person, that we will not allow anymore,” he added.
No carriages, banners
The image, one of the most revered by Filipino Catholics, especially those who believe it has miraculous healing powers, depicts a crimson-robed cross-bearing Jesus Christ on the way to Golgotha.
Aside from the height limit on statues, feast organizers are also prohibiting devotees from bringing their own carriages, banners and other paraphernalia that might also mislead the crowd.
Irasga said the new policies would be implemented, in coordination with the police, from the start of the novena Masses on Jan. 7 up to Jan. 9, as well as during the “Walk of Faith” procession on Jan. 8, a day before the feast day.
The Walk of Faith will be held in lieu of the traditional “traslacion,” which usually covers several blocks in Manila’s central district and takes several hours to finish.
The Jan. 8 procession—being a break from the traslacion—will not feature the original Black Nazarene statue. But it will still start in the wee hours from Quirino Grandstand and is expected to reach Quiapo Church in just about two hours.
The statue will instead be open to public veneration at the grandstand from Jan. 7 to Jan. 9. Devotees, however, would no longer be allowed to get close enough to kiss it.
According to Fr. Earl Valdez, attached priest of Quiapo Church, two major factors prompted the church to cancel the traslacion: The continuing COVID-19 situation and “the exponential increase’’ in the number of devotees that include the elderly and “possibly immunocompromised” individuals.
Quiapo Church announces schedule of Nazareno 2023 activities
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