Friday devotions have long existed in the Catholic Church dedicated to Christ who died on Good Friday. In the Philippines, popular Friday devotions are the devotion to the Sacred Heart, devotion to the Child Jesus, and the devotion to Nuestro Padre Hesus Nazareno. Every Friday in Manila is Quiapo Friday. Thousands of devotees of Nuestro Padre Jesus Nazareno flood the streets of Quiapo in order to say their novenas or attend the Mass in the well-known Quiapo Church.
As early as three o’clock in the morning, prayer leaders lead the people in praying the rosary. The celebration of the holy mass is done fifteen times that starts as early as four o’clock in the morning. Masses continue by the hour with only a few minutes interval. The last Mass of the day is at eight o’clock in the evening.
The Novena to Nuestro Padre Hesus Nazareno is prayed after the twelve-noon mass and in the evening as part of the Holy Hour. Catechism is also given by a priest to the devotees an hour before the three o’clock mass. Another devotional prayer that is being prayed inside the Church on Fridays is the Chaplet of Divine Mercy and the Angelus.
Friday is also the day when a great multitude of devotees line up venerating the image of Nazareno. The center of attention is the image of Nazareno that is enthroned in the main altar that is accessible from the back of the church. People wait in line for hours just to touch the foot of the image and offer some prayers. This gesture of veneration is popularly known in Quiapo as the Pahalik. In the Pahalik, devotees touch, kiss or wipe their handkerchiefs to the image of Nazareno or other images of saints in the Church. This activity goes all throughout the day as devotees come and go from the Church premises.
Although confessions are available from Monday to Saturday, many of the devotees still say their confession on Fridays. They don’t bother lining up for hours just to reach the confession box where a priest is ready to hear their confession. On a regular Friday, priests minister confession to the penitents, serving at least two hours each. The confessional is open from four in the morning until nine in the evening. A priest says that perhaps many of these people came for the Mass and Novena and do not intend to confess, but are eventually moved to repentance by their experience of Nazareno in their prayers.
There are also devotees who walk on their knees on the center aisle of the church towards the sanctuary. This practice is being allowed after all the liturgical services inside the Church are finished to avoid any form of destruction. Many devotees who did this testify that the Nazareno has been granting their prayer request. Thus the saying “simulan mo ng lumakad ng paluhod sa Quiapo” (“better start walking on your knees in Quiapo”) became popular for those who are begging God for miracles.
With uncontrollable number of devotees that visit Quiapo on Fridays, which even doubles on first Fridays of the month, many organizations help in ushering fellow devotees to order. Three large outdoor LED screens are provided for better viewing for people who can no longer be accommodated inside the Church. Mass servers, collectors, readers, and lay ministers are in full force ensuring that every needs of the Church especially during mass are being taken care of. The mass is being broadcast live on social media for other devotees.
Devotees who come to church of Quiapo are also admired for their generosity. They leave their alms in the collection bags carried during Mass or collection boxes that are positioned around the premises. Many give alms in form of Mass intentions that’s why additional booth for Pamisa is seen in the Church vicinity on first Friday and special occasions. Donations that are handed to the Parish office are given receipts. For those donations left in the donation boxes with complete donors’ information, the Parish office sends them their receipts thru mail with a short letter of thanks from a parochial vicar.
Security is never taken for granted. CCTV cameras are spread all over the premises with good numbers of guard and K9 units patrolling the area. Police are also visible on the plaza and the nearby streets. Taking pictures is strictly prohibited inside the church. A permit to do so can be obtained in the Parish office. Use of cellphones inside the church especially during mass are discouraged and people who do so are sometimes accosted by the volunteer church ushers.
It’s really difficult to be in Quiapo on Fridays especially if one has special needs and not accustomed to crowded areas. But devotees of Nuestro Padre Jesus Nazareno bear all these inconveniences just to be able to fulfill their own personal promises to the Lord. Truly, the devotion shown by the faithful every Friday in Quiapo Church is an expression of the Filipinos’ piety.