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Flocking for a miracle

MANILA (SE): Around one-and-a-half-million people joined the procession of the Black Nazarene through the streets of Manila on January 9 to mark the 411th year of the arrival of the famous statue in The Philippines from Mexico.

The day, which began with midnight Mass offered by the archbishop of Manila, Luis Cardinal Tagle, at the Quirino Grandstand, was anticipated to involve up to 18 million people at its various functions during the day.

Tight security was set by the government in the midst terrorist threats, but apart from some minor injuries, the event moved smoothly as the procession marking the 230th anniversary of the Translaction (movement) of the statue from its first home in Intramuros to its current dwelling at Quiapo Church was celebrated.

Made out of hard wood, the statue of the black Christ on one knee under the weight of his cross arrived in Manila with a group of Augustinians in 1606.

Anecdotal history has it that the ship caught fire on the way. The statue survived the fire, but came out charred black by the heat.

Over the centuries, the proud statue has become a national symbol of mercy and divine providence.

Cardinal Tagle said that the day is a challenge to all people to love as Christ did, as symbolised in his baptism, where he showed that he is no different from his people and that is the type of love, which is ready to embrace the weak without condemning that will bring peace and unity to families.

He called this the key to unity, as it is an expression of equality among all people.

A replica of the original is also housed in Mindanao and a procession is held in Cagayan de Oro.

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