A sea of people each year would pour out of the Minor Basilica of the Black Nazarene to accompany the dark statue of Jesus Christ— the Black Nazarene— in a procession around the district of Quiapo in Manila. Devotees believe the statue to be miraculous, and Pope Pius VII in 1880 granted plenary indulgence to devotees praying before it. Thousands of people partake in this tradition.
The original statue came from Mexico, sculpted by an unknown artist who originally painted it mulato. Legend has it the original burned and so you have the black Jesus Christ.
It is an interesting to watch how all this transpires. It has taken a life of its own, of course. From the individual, each have their own stories to tell. Each have a reason for going to the feast, and to join in the procession.
From a logical, calculating mind, there is much absurdity in it. Why spend a full day in the heat, in the crowd, and a pretty high chance of getting crushed in a sea of people, just as you will have a chance to get dehydrated? It doesn’t make sense.
From the perspective of a believer, the journey is a deeply spiritual one.
“Faith, after all, is still a private affair,” writes Karl de Mesa in Days Underground: Inside the Devotion of the Black Nazarene. “Even if you can’t drop a pin on Feast day, the heart of the practice isn’t joining the crowd; it’s the yearning for a benevolent force bigger than yourself. The Senyor fills this religious hunger like a boundless fount.”