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Huge crowds at Black Nazarene procession

MANILA (UCAN): The Black Nazarene procession in Manila, The Philippines, on January 10 saw an estimated six million barefoot devotees participate in the frenzied devotional. 
The sea of people—men, women and children—chanted, “Viva Señor Nazareno” (Hail! Nazarene Lord!), as they hauled on the rope tied to the carriage carrying the image of a charred Jesus during the snail-paced, 22-hour parade through the narrow streets of the city. The procession began at Luneta Park and reached the Minor Basilica of the Black Nazarene in the district of Quiapo, at around 3.00am on January 10.
According to Joel Coronel, chief of Manila Police District, at least 18 million people attended the annual celebration, about 6.3 million of whom joine the procession. Double that of last year.
Cloaked in a maroon robe, crowned with thorns and bearing a cross, the Nazarene statue was brought to Manila by the Augustinian friars in 1607 during the time of Spanish colonial rule.
The annual procession, which covers a seven-kilometre route, commemorates the solemn transfer of the Nazarene from the San Nicolas de Tolentino chapel, in the old city of Manila, to Quiapo Church in 1787.
The image was supposedly carved by an anonymous Mexican sculptor and brought to Manila via a galleon from Acapulco. 
Traditional accounts attribute the colour to candles burning before the image, although the most widespread belief is that a fire on the galleon charred it.
Father Douglas Badong, parish prieest of the Minor Basilica of the Black Nazarene, said, “There was really a huge crowd the entire route,” adding that street parties along way also slowed the procession, which was “orderly and peaceful.”
Monsignor Hernando Coronel, rector of the basilica, thanked the organisers of the festival, which he described as a “huge endeavour of faith.”
For the second year, live social media streaming allowed Filipinos living abroad to enjoy the spectacle.
Luis Cardinal Tagle, the archbishop of Manila, said the huge crowd amazed the new papal nuncio to the country, Archbishop Gabriele Caccia,.
“Even before he was assigned here, he had heard so much about the devotion of Filipinos.... He wanted to (personally) see,” the cardinal said.
Cardinal Tagle said that when the nuncio saw the crowd he remarked: “Look at how the faith of the people can inspire us.”
Celebrations in honour of the Black Nazarene were also held in Cagayan de Oro, Mindanao, where an estimated 200,000 people joined a two-hour procession, as well as in central Bohol province and other parts of the country.
The Feast of the Black Nazarene is one of the biggest religious events in Asia.

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