A life-size image of Jesus Christ carrying a black wooden cross in a semi-kneeling position. This is how one describes the image of Nuestro Padre Hesus Nazareno in Quiapo. Crowned with thorns and a diadem of three silver rays, the head of Nazareno portrays the suffering face of Christ. It is said in the Passion narratives that Christ falls into his knee in the struggle to bear the heavy wooden cross.
The image of the Black Nazarene was brought to the Philippines by an unknown Recollect priest from Mexico during the Galleon trade. From the Church of Recollect Fathers in Intramuros, it was transferred to Quiapo Church according to the wish of the Archbishop Manila at that time. Since then, the image of Nuestro Padre Jesus Nazareno has been enshrined in the center altar of the Church where it is visible to thousands of devotees.
The ritual of vesting the image is known as the Pabihis. It is done six times during the year headed by a priest in the presence of the public audience. The image of Nazareno is garbed in elegant velvet maroon robes, embroidered with floral and plant motif in gold-colored threads accented with lace trimmings on its collar and cuffs. Around the waist of the image is a metal belt with the word NAZARENO while looped around its neck is a golden chain and ball that is held on the left hand of the image. At the end of the Pabihis the old vestment worn by the image is kept in the Parish office and sometimes given out to poor parishes.
Replicas of the Nazareno are venerated within the vicinity of the Church. All in all the parish owns four life-size replicas. These replicas are used during processions and pilgrimages. Hundreds of small images of Nazareno are also being sold in the streets around the Church. This proves that devotees would not only want to see the image of Nazareno inside the church, but in their homes as well. A prayer of blessing before the end of each Mass is said by the priest for the religious articles brought in by mass goers. As the prayer goes, “may these items of faith remind them of their baptism promises that they will love and serve the Lord.”