MANILA, Philippines – At least 120,000 people attended the Quirino Grandstand midnight Mass which opened the Feast of the Black Nazarene on Tuesday, January 9.
According to estimates of the Manila Police District Station 5 monitoring the event, the crowd numbered about 120,000 at 12 midnight.
The much-awaited Mass was led by Monsignor Hernando Coronel, the Quiapo Church rector, with Cardinal Luis Antonio Tagle as the homilist. (PANOORIN: Ano ang ginagawa ng Quiapo Church laban sa patayan?)
Devotees filled the Quirino Grandstand area, a popular gathering place in Manila where the traslacion of the Black Nazarene towards Quiapo Church will begin.
In a rare instance, the papal nuncio – the Vatican’s ambassador to Philippines – concelebrated the Holy Eucharist.
Notable people who were spotted attending the Mass included recently-released Senator Jinggoy Estrada and his father Manila Mayor Joseph Estrada.
Philippine National Police chief Director General Ronald dela Rosa and Metro Manila top cop Director Oscar Albayalde also sat together close to the front.
Other familiar faces were acting and comedy pair Melai Cantiveros and her husband Jason Francisco who were spotted at the VIP area of the Quirino Grandstand.
The Manila Police District (MPD) Station 5 which guards the grounds saw the crowd’s count double after recording just 60,000 devotees at about 9:30 pm.
The number is expected to grow as the hour of the procession of the image of the Black Nazarene approaches, where authorities expect a turnout of at least 18 million believers. – with reports by Paterno Esmaquel II/Rappler.com
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