MANILA, Philippines (UPDATED) – Approximately 22 hours after leaving the Quirino Grandstand, the image of the Black Nazarene reached its home, Quiapo Church, escorted by hundreds of thousands of devotees who defied a terror threat Monday, January 9.
The Philippine National Police (PNP) has not released the final figures of devotees who joined the Feast of the Black Nazarene on Monday, but the PNP said the number of devotees reached 1.4 million at one point.
The procession began at around 5:28 am at the Quirino Grandstand, around 30 minutes earlier than in previous years.
The image of the Black Nazarene arrived at the street in front of the gate of the church 21 hours later at around 3:10 am of Tuesday morning, January 10, and the gate was opened at around 3:20 am.
The image of the Black Nazarene was given a rousing ovation, with cries of "Viva, Poong Hesus, Nazareno!" echoing as it entered the Church at around 3:30 am, a little over 22 hours after the beginning of the procession.
Called the Traslacion, the procession pushed through despite a terror threat announced by Interior Secretary Ismael Sueno days before the annual feast. (READ: Devotees defy terror threat as Traslacion progresses)
In his homily at the Midnight Mass for the annual feast, Manila Archbishop Luis Antonio Cardinal Tagle delivered a message for a polarized country. Do not judge others, Tagle told devotees, as he pointed out that "division is often the cause of prejudice."
President Rodrigo Duterte also issued a statement hailing devotees for their "phenomenal expression of faith."
Referring to the Black Nazarene, Duterte said, "In His tears, we see our sorrow; and in His agony, we find our solace and strength to triumph against the most insurmountable odds." – Rappler.com
Paterno R. Esmaquel II, news editor of Rappler, specializes in covering religion and foreign affairs. He obtained his MA Journalism degree from Ateneo and later finished MSc Asian Studies (Religions in Plural Societies) at RSIS, Singapore. For story ideas or feedback, email him at firstname.lastname@example.org.