Sunday, January 8, 2017

280. A NATIONHOOD OF NAZARENOS

JESUS NAZARENO OLD ESTAMPITA,

Every year, in January, Quiapo becomes the center of fervent religious attention during its fiesta. The devotion revolves around a dark, life-size, cross-bearing image of Nuestro Padre Jesús Nazareno (Poóng Itím na Nazareno) that is enshrined in the district’s minor basilica.

Photo courtesy of Dr. Raymund Feliciano

Photo courtesy of Dr. Raymund Feliciano

The image comes out thrice in a year—on New Year’s Day, on January 9, and on Good Friday. The Januaray 9 “prusisyon” is the largest of the three, when the re-enactment of the image’s solemn transfer (Traslacion) to the basilica from its original location in what is now Rizal Park.

Photo courtesy of Dr. Raymund Feliciano

Photo courtesy of Dr. Raymund Feliciano

Religious veneration of the Nazareno—so-called because Jesus is identified as having come from Nazareth, in Galilee is profoundly  rooted among Filipinos who identify with Christ’s sufferings as represented by the statue.

Photo courtesy of Dr. Raymund Feliciano

Alex R. Castro Photo

The black Nazareno image was brought here in a Mexican galleon which sailed from Acapulco. It was carved by an unknown Mexican sculptor  in the mid-1600s. Its dark color is not due to the black fumes of votive candles, or to being scorched by fire that occurred in the galleon  as widely believed,--but because of the dark mesquite wood used.

Photo courtesy of Dr. Raymund Feliciano

Photo courtesy of Dr. Raymund Feliciano

Because the Nazareno had attained national popularity as early as the 18th century, it has inspired replicas all over the country. The older and more popular copy belonged to the Recoletos, but this was destroyed during the last War.

Photo courtesy of Froilan Guanzon

Photo courtesy of Dr. Raymund Feliciano

Today, practically every church in every Philippine town has a Nazareno image, many of which are also antiques. Outside of Quiapo, there are similar “Traslacion” processions  being carried out, using official replica images—like the one in Cagayan de Oro.

Photo courtesy of Dr. Raymund Feliciano

Photo courtesy of Dr. Raymund Feliciano
Overseas, copies of the Nazareno could be found in Australia and in parishes in the United States, where Filipinos gather to process their images around the church grounds.


Photo courtesy of Dr. Raymund Feliciano

While Quiapo has become the focal point of homage to Christ, the Nazarene, its fiesta has also become a season for all men, for all Filipinos, a nation of worshippers still coming to grips with the conflict of God-inspired rituals and human chaos. 

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