Philippines cancels Black Nazarene procession again, citing COVID-19 

CNA Staff   By CNA Staff


Procession of the Black Nazarene in Manila, January 7, 2010. / Denvie (CC BY 2.0).

Washington, D.C. Newsroom, Jan 5, 2022 / 16:28 pm (CNA).

Philippine authorities are canceling the country’s “Black Nazarene” procession  — an annual event where millions of Catholics accompany a revered statue of Jesus through the streets of Manila  —for a second year because of the COVID-19 pandemic.

The government’s coronavirus task force called off the Jan. 9 procession, or “Traslacion,” before related celebrations were scheduled to begin on Friday, Reuters reported.

For centuries, the Black Nazarene  — a statue of a dark life-size Jesus carrying his cross  — has symbolized passion, struggle, and faith for Filipino Catholics. The faithful usually carry a replica of the statue through Manila on Jan. 9, the feast of the Black Nazarene. You can learn about the fascinating history of this centuries-old tradition here.

A minor basilica in Manila, known as Quiapo Church, houses the miraculous statue that has survived fires that destroyed the church twice, as well as earthquakes, typhoon flooding, and bombings during World War II.

When authorities canceled last year’s procession, they still allowed Quiapo Church, also called the Minor Basilica of the Black Nazarene, to hold in-person Masses. This year, authorities have said that police will prevent the faithful from assembling outside the church, Reuters reported.

“We understand (the cancellation) for our safety and health reasons,” Father Douglas Badong, the parochial vicar, said during a news conference.

President Rodrigo Duterte supported cancellations during his weekly address on Tuesday.

“I am now appealing to you to forego and cancel all physical gatherings including the procession and the celebration of Mass,” he said, according to CNN Philippines. “There are millions of devotees there and you cannot just be complacent about the transmission of the disease.”

The Philippines counted 10,775 new cases on Wednesday, which marked the highest daily number since October.

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