Popular Black Nazarene Procession Explained and Why it was Canceled by the Government in the Philippines

Millions of devotees usually attend the "Traslacion", the annual procession featuring the image of the Black Nazarene, which starts in January, with a prayer vigil during the night. 
-This feast is a manifestation of popular devotion in the Philippines that has lasted more than four centuries, with millions of devotees who place their hopes in the suffering Christ.

-The peak of the program is the traditional procession through the streets of Manila with a statue, in black wood, depicting Christ carrying the cross towards the Calvary. Millions of believers converge from all over the country to Manila to attend this feast.
-The statue of the Black Nazarene was brought to Manila in 1607 by Augustinian missionaries from Mexico. It is also believed that it was partially burned and blackened when the galleon carrying it caught fire on a transpacific trip from Mexico, another Spanish colony at the time. 
Pandemic Cancellation:
However, in 2022, due to the pandemic the government closed the Quiapo Church due to a surge in coronavirus cases. The head of Manila’s Roman Catholic Church called on Black Nazarene devotees to show their devotion by caring for others instead.
Like the government, Cardinal Jose Advincula said the church is also concerned about the rapid increase in Covid-19 cases in the country, especially in Metro Manila.
He echoed the concern of the government that the Black Nazarene festivities, which usually draw millions of devotees, will further aggravate the pandemic situation.
The government’s Covid-19 task force has earlier ordered the closure of Quiapo Church from Jan. 8 to 9, the feast of the Black Nazarene, to prevent devotees from crowding.
“We look forward for your cooperation,” Advincula said.
“Let us show our devotion to our Lord Jesus of Nazareth by considering the good of everyone and by being concerned for the safety of all,” he said.
While the procession of the revered image of the Black Nazarene was canceled during last year’s feast, the Quiapo Church was still allowed to hold public Masses albeit with restrictions and capacity limits in place.
This year, however, the government ordered the suspension of public Masses due to the threat of more contagious Omicron Covid-19 strain.
The cardinal has reached out to the devotees and asked for their understanding that the usual festivities will not be held this year.
“We apologize and seek your understanding that because of this pandemic, we cannot push through with the traditional activities during the feast of the Black Nazarene,” Advincula said.
The cardinal called on devotees to instead participate in the occasion by attending Masses online from Quiapo Church.
“Even if it is hard for us not to visit the Black Nazarene on his feast day, let us, through modern technology, allow Him to visit us instead in our own homes,” he said. (CBCP Excerpt)