This is AI generated summarization, which may have errors. For context, always refer to the full article.
Devotees defied the COVID-19 pandemic on Saturday, January 9, and trooped to Quiapo Church for the annual feast of the Black Nazarene despite persistent reminders to stay home or hear Mass in other churches.
The Feast of the Black Nazarene, the biggest religious event in this predominantly Catholic country, is usually characterized by a day-long procession that attracts millions of devotees every January 9. The Black Nazarene refers to Jesus of Nazareth, as represented by a 17th-century mulatto image that devotees believe to be miraculous.
This procession called the Traslacion was canceled this year, however, to help curb COVID-19 has affected more than 483,800 people and killed at least 9,300 in the Philippines.
Still, devotees persisted in their annual tradition and trooped to Quiapo Church, where the image of the Black Nazarene is enshrined. While only 400 people at a time are allowed inside Quiapo Church due to quarantine rules, thousands of others heard Mass or prayed outside the church building.
Manila police said at least 19,800 people were in Quiapo as of 5:50 am on Saturday.
Bishop Broderick Pabillo, temporary head of the Archdiocese of Manila, opened the fiesta with a Mass in Quiapo Church at 4:30 am on Saturday. In his homily, Pabillo said the huge crowds despite the pandemic prove the Black Nazarene’s “magnetism.”
“Talagang ang Poong Nazareno ay isang magnet, napakalakas na magnet na ina-attract ang maraming tao sa kanya at hindi mapipigilan ang attraction na ‘yon,” Pabillo said. (The Black Nazarene is really a magnet, a really strong magnet that attracts many people and we cannot stop that attraction.)
“Saan ba tayo na-a-attract? Hindi lang po tayo naa-attract sa isang imahen. Ang isang imahen, ‘yan po ay isang tanda lamang. Naa-attract tayo sa pag-ibig ng Diyos,” Pabillo said. (Where are we attracted? We are not only attracted to an image. An image is only a symbol. We are attracted to the love of God.)
Still, Pabillo reminded devotees not to flock just to Quiapo Church for this annual feast. In an earlier interview with church-run Radio Veritas, he said devotees can also attend Nazareno Masses in other churches in the Archdiocese of Manila, such as San Sebastian Church, Santa Cruz Church, and Binondo Church.
Health experts also advised devotees to stay home on Saturday, and choose to attended Masses online.
In a statement, the Healthcare Professionals Alliance Against COVID-19 (HPAAC) warned that the more contagious UK variant of COVID-19 might already be in the Philippines. HPAAC said it would be safer for devotees to attend Masses through radio, TV, or the internet.
“Ang pagtugon sa panawagang ito ay tanda rin ng pagmamahal natin sa ating kapwa at sumasabuhay ng ating pananampalataya,” the health expert said. (Responding to this call is also a sign of our love for neighbor that lives out our faith.) – Rappler.com