#BreakingNews Over Half a Million People Visit Church for 400 Year Old Black Nazarene Feast 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. However, for the past 3 years this procession was cancelled due to the worldwide health crisis. Instead, on January 8th there was a "Walk of Faith" where 88,000 devotees prayed while walking.
On January 9th, the reported number of faithful to have visited the church is over 500,000 by 9pm.  

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. 
CNN Philippines reported that the Quiapo Church Operation Center’s estimate as of 9 p.m., around 564,200 devotees have been at the Quiapo Church where in-person masses are held hourly. Around 122,710 devotees were at the Quirino Grandstand to pay their respects to the Black Nazarene for the “Pagpupugay,” which replaced the traditional “Pahalik” or kissing of the image of the Black Nazarene.
The peak of the program used to be 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 would converge from all over the country to Manila to attend this feast.
By touching the statue of Christ, the many participants hope that illnesses will be cured. The effigy of the Black Nazarene was made by an unknown Aztec artist in Mexico in 1606 and arrived in the Philippines with the first group of Augustinians on a Manila galleon, arriving on May 31st. The black coloring is probably due to a fire that broke out on the ship during the crossing. (Agenzia Fides Excerpt)
The office of the President of the Philippines, Bongbong Marcos, wrote:
The PCO is with the Filipino people in celebrating the Black Nazarene Festival and in remembering the love of Jesus Christ for all of us.

May this serve as a time of reflection and service in our communities, similar to the teaching and example shown by Jesus.
The Catholic Bishops of the Philippines wrote:
Tens of thousands of devotees have joined the first ever “Walk of Faith” in Manila before dawn Sunday, the eve of the Feast of the Black Nazarene. Church authorities said about 88,000 people showed up for the procession from Quirino Grandstand to Quiapo Church, which lasted for around two hours. Many devotees carried candles and small replicas of the Black Nazarene throughout the procession, while praying the rosary. The 6-kilometer Walk of Faith was held as the traditional “Traslacion” of the life-sized image of the Black Nazarene remains suspended due to the Covid-19 pandemic. Quiapo Church spokesperson Fr. Earl Valdez said the religious activity “was orderly and prayerful fashion”. “I think we were able to draw devotees into a new, albeit temporary, way of having the procession without the image,” Valdez said. “I think we were also able to process safely and orderly… and there were no major disruptions in the procession,” he added. The procession kicked off after a midnight Mass presided over by Quiapo Church rector Fr. Jun Sescon. In his homily, the priest invited the devotees to conversion and into a deeper relationship with Jesus. He also asked them to turn away from sins, lies, violence, corruption and injustices, and from committing injustices. “We must let go of these things so we can journey towards Jesus of Nazarene,” Sescon said. Since Saturday, devotees have been queuing at the Quirino Grandstand for the “pagpupugay” (paying tribute) wherein people are allowed to get near and touch the image of the black Jesus. Cardinal Jose Advincula of Manila will celebrate Mass at the Quirino Grandstand at midnight of Jan. 9 to mark the Feast of the Black Nazarene.
Sources: CBCPNews.net - CNN Philippines Ed. - Fides.org