A vow turned into tragedy. The director of the Manila Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council [MDRRMC] Johnny Yu confirmed that a member of the Hijos del Nazareno, Renato Guryon, 44, died on the day of the procession in January 9, 2015 while managing a sea of devotees wanted to have the chance to wipe or touch the Black Nazarene’s feet. Seeking for healing, personal requests and good fortune was the main reason for this clamor to get close to the statue. Guryon and the group were securing the carriage since Thursday night which aggravated their fatigue.
“Have we understood them well enough and guided them properly? have we communicated to the ‘devotees’ properly?” — Msgr. Jose Clemente F. Ignacio, Minor Basilica of the Black Nazarene
For 494 years of Catholic existence in the Philippines since it was first introduced on a Sunday of March 31st, it is such an interesting surprise to know that the rector and parish priest of the Quiapo Church, Msgr. Jose Clemente F. Ignacio, through the Minor Basilica of the Black Nazarene, an article entitled, Understanding the Devotion to the Black Nazarene, he wrote that they, too, is still to understand the devotees kind of spirituality, “We understand the apprehensions of our brothers in the ministry because we, ourselves, have not fully understood the depths of this devotion. And admittedly, when emotions run too high without reason, fanaticism sets in. ”
The devotees were looking for the following:
- miraculous healing
- transformation of spirit and personality
- they were believed to be holy places where miracles happen and prayers were heard.
The parade of the Black Nazarene originally came from Mexico. A long been tradition that the Filipinos adopted. The color came about when the boat caught on fire that made the once white statue to a burnt one. Now, it is carried off by a gold carriage and the devotees wore maroon. This is held yearly at Quiapo, Manila.
A belief that whosoever touch the Black Nazarene will be healed and devotees from different parts of the country and tourists alike rub and kissed the Nazarene. The lighting of candles, performing mass, changing of clothes, holding the Nazarene, novena, parade, taking off foot-wears and walking in knees are some of the rituals that majority of the devotees do in the anticipation of the actual parade.
Devotees believed that it is the place that God showers his blessings in the church. But time passed that most attendees present in Quiapo came not to worship. Many of them came to sell souvenir items. Small and big replicas of the Black Nazarene — made out of plastic, wood and stones. But the most common is the handkerchief which devotees rub to the feet and face believed to heal anything that touches it.
Taking time to a “holy” event that vendors dug in to this occasion to produce some money and others for sentimental reason for the thousands of devotees gathered around the country. This festivity is held every 9th of January. The devotees joins the parade “barefoot” as a sign of humility.
The Metro Manila Development Authority [MMDA] set a traffic rerouting scheme for the Friday’s procession.
Although the government had set some rules and rerouting schemes, still people are injured and many are suffocated due to the massive crowd that circled the Black Nazarene just to get a hold and wipe off its feet. Dr. Eric Tayag, Health Assistant Secretary said that 1,686 patients had already been attended as of 6 p.m. and that does not include the hours after the parade.
Here are some of the reactions of our fellowmen of last year’s event:
At the end of the day, it is us who make our life decisions. It’s just a matter of principle. What is right and what is just. What is clear and what is just absurd.
Rev. Anton Pascual, Executive Director of Caritas Manila and head of the papal visit subcommittee on media relations said in an interview of the Asian Journal that the Black Nazarene feast is a dry-run for the up-coming papal visit of Pope Francis. “Yes, the Black Nazarene fiesta is a dress rehearsal for the papal visit, especially the culminating mass at Quirino Grandstand in Luneta, manila on January 18.
It is just so sad that the feast that supposed to have healing miracles is also an event that caused another his life and to others, injuries.
It had been long practiced but what does the Bible says in these occasions?
Zambrano, Chiara. “Black Nazarene Devotion: Deep Faith or ‘idolatry’?” N.p., 8 Jan. 2014. Web.
Ignacio, Clem. “Understanding the Devotion to the Black Nazarene.” Minor Basilica of the Black Nazarene. National Liturgical Congress, 12 Apr. 2012. Web.
Tangi, Rocelle. “Dry Run for Papal visit.” Asian Journal. N.p., Jan. 2015. Web.