Mother of all pro­ces­sions

Sun.Star Pampanga - - OPINOIOPNINION -

IN TERMS of sheer crowd size and du­ra­tion, no Filipino one-day re­li­gious event comes close to the an­nual stag­ing of Trasla­cion.

If pre­vi­ous events are any in­di­ca­tion, today’s (January 9) re-en­act­ment is ex­pected to at­tract al­most 12 mil­lion devo­tees from all over. It will take the sea of ma­roon and yel­low some 20 hours on the road as it moves the anda bear­ing the im­age of the Black Nazarene, inch by inch, from Luneta through the streets of Quiapo dis­trict and fi­nally to the Quiapo church.

To­wards the end of the pro­ces­sion route, the Black Nazarene will stop briefly at Plaza del Car­men, along­side the San Se­bas­tian Church. The im­age of Our Lady of Mount Carmel will be taken down from the high al­tar and will be brought as close as pos­si­ble to “meet” the Black Nazar ene.

After the brief meet­ing, rem­i­nis­cent of the Vir­gin Mary meet­ing Je­sus Christ on His way to Cal­vary, Our Lady of Mount Carmel is re­turned to the al­tar as the pro­ces­sion de­parts for its fi­nal des­ti­na­tion.

Re­ported threats from ter­ror­ist groups are not ex­pected the dampen the in­ter­est of devo­tees many of whom strongly be­lieve in the mirac­u­lous heal­ing pow­ers at­trib­uted to the i mage.

A good num­ber of the par­tic­i­pants - es­ti­mated by po­lice at close to 500,000 — are ex­pected to walk bare­foot, jostling close to the im­age, in an at­tempt to phys­i­cally touch the im­age or have their tow­els wipe at least a part of the im­age.

Sim­i­lar, al­beit smaller, pro­ces­sions repli­cat­ing the Traslación are also held on January 9 in other parts of the coun­try. One of the big­ger cel­e­bra­tions has been held in Ca­gayan de Oro City since 2009. Two years ago, devo­tees in Catar­man, North­ern Sa­mar ini­ti­ated their own Trasla­cion.

Over­seas, our com­pa­tri­ots in some parts of the US and Aus­tralia ob­serve a sim­i­lar tra­di­tion. As in Quiapo, a copy of the im­age is pa­raded through the streets or within the par­ish bounds, with devo­tees recit­ing prayers in its wake.

In parts of Cen­tral Amer­ica, devo­tees ob­serve a sim­i­lar prac­tice to honor their Christo Ne­gro.

The Black Nazarene was com­mis­sioned by Span­ish Agus­tinian Recol­lect fri­ars in Mex­ico and then trans­ported to Manila via galleon around 1600. Ac­cord­ing to Mon­signor Sabino A. Vengco, Jr., from the Loy­ola School of The­ol­ogy, the un­known Mex­i­can sculp­tor must have used mesquite, a dark wood, pop­u­larly used by early Spa­niards.

For al­most two hun­dred years, the Black Nazarene trans­ferred res­i­dence from one church to an­other within Manila. The penul­ti­mate res­i­dence of the Black Nazarene was a church in the neigh­bor­hood of Luneta. It was not un­til 1787 when it fi­nally and per­ma­nently resided in Quiapo church.

The Trasla­cion com­mem­o­rates the trans­fer from Luneta to Quiapo.

Pope In­no­cent X ap­proved the ven­er­a­tion of the statue in 1650 while Pope Pius VII gave it his apos­tolic bless­ing in 1880, grant­ing ple­nary in­dul­gence to pi­ous de­vot ees.

Over the years, the im­age be­gan to de­te­ri­o­rate. The orig­i­nal im­age is said to have lost sev­eral fin­gers. To pre­serve it, the Arch­bishop of Manila re­port­edly de­cided to have two repli­cas made.

One replica is said to con­sist of the orig­i­nal head at­tached to a body sculpted by a lo­cal “saint­maker”. The sec­ond replica is said to con­sist of the orig­i­nal body and a head which was like­wise sculpted lo­cally.

True or not, the dif­fer­ence hardly mat­ters to the devo­tees. Par­tic­i­pa­tion in the Trasla­cion is the devo­tees’once-a-year way of shar­ing in the agony of Je­sus Christ as he car­ried the cross to Cal­vary. It is also a way of pos­si­bly be­ing healed of some ail­ments or to have some personal or fam­ily fa­vors granted.

Un­for­tu­nately for some, the Trasla­cion does not al­ways have a happy end­ing. The po­lice re­ports, year in and year out, mul­ti­ple in­juries, and oc­ca­sional deaths, due to heat stroke, hy­per­glycemia, de­hy­dra­tion and tram­pling. Quite a num­ber go home sans their wallets be­cause of thieves wear­ing devo­tees’clothes.

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