Mar. 04, 2023 02:03 PM
Newly flower-adorned main altar of the Black Nazarene this Nazareno 2023, January 9, 2023 (Photo by Social Communications Ministry (SOCCOMM), Quiapo Church)
The Black Nazarene Feast had been challenging for all the followers who wanted to celebrate in the usual way. Moving on from the painful memory of last year’s lockdown event, the NAZARENO 2023 brings back the hope of slowly reviving the spirit of the Nazareno celebration that draws the attention of thousands and millions of people, which will bring even more foreign pilgrims to the event.
On December 27–29, 2022, thousands of Nazareno replica images from inside and outside Manila received the annual replica blessings as they do every year. Most of the replica images are owned by the Balangay members of the Hijos del Nazareno: 1. HDN-Anpon 2. HDN-Basilica 3. HDN-Bukluran 4.HDN-Central 5. HDN-MBBN 6. HDN-NPJN. The ‘Balangays‘ are formed groups of communities-based devotees of the Nazareno, who are affiliated with the six Hijos del Nazareno organizations in the Quiapo Church.
The traditional pabihis or the changing of clothing of the main image of the Black Nazarene at the altar, was done on December 28, 2022, followed by the final pabihis on January 7, 2023. Many people were excited to witness the pabihis so they could see the blessing and kiss the image’s old clothes at the same time.
Replica images of the Nazareno owned by different Balangays lined up at the Plaza Miranda for the annual replica blessing in time for Nazareno 2023 (Photos by Social Communications Ministry (SOCCOMM), Quiapo Church)
The year-end Thanksgiving Procession was done with a motorcade within Manila with approximately 15,000 participants on January 31, 2022. The glass-covered Nazareno image was mounted on a truck and accompanied by the clergy of the Quiapo Church, led by the Rector and Parish Priest, Rev. Fr. Rufino C. Sescon, Jr.
Devotees of the Black Nazarene raising their hands praising as the image of the Black Nazarene within a covered glass and mounted on a truck passes by the processional routes during the year-end Thanksgiving Procession (Photos by Social Communications Ministry (SOCCOMM), Quiapo Church)
December 31, 2022, also marked the beginning of the novena masses at the Quiapo Church in honor of the Nuestro Padre Hesus Nazareno at 11:45 a.m. mass, which concluded on January 8, 2023. The rectors of cathedrals from different dioceses were invited to lead the masses for the nine-day novena: Rev. Fr. Reynante Tolentino of the Antipolo Cathedral, Rev. Fr. Mariano Baranda of the Pasig Cathedral, Rev. Fr. Jerome Cruz of Kalookan Cathedral, Rev. Fr. Marion Noel Bayaras, administrator of the Manila Cathedral, Rev. Fr. Antonio Labiao, Jr., of Novaliches Cathedral, Rev. Fr. Dennis Soriano of Cubao Cathedral, Rev. Fr. Getty Ferrer of San Jose Cathedral in Nueva Ecija, Rev. Fr. Alberto Santiago of Malolos Cathedral, and Rev. Fr. August Pulido of Paranaque Cathedral.
Alongside the novena mass celebrations at the Quiapo Church, there were also simultaneous pilgrimage masses celebrated in thirty-two (32) various places consisting of churches, private and government institutions within and outside Manila: The Rector and Parish Priest, Rev. Fr. Rufino C. Sescon, Jr., took charge of the seven (7) various institutions such as private offices, chapels and government agencies within Metro Manila. Meanwhile, the parochial vicars got their respective assignments: Rev. Fr. Hans Magdurulang, in charge of all six (6) cathedrals in the National Capital Region; Rev. Fr. Earl Allyson Valdez, in charge of the five churches in the Northern Luzon; Rev. Fr. Jonathan Noel Mojica, in charge of the seven (7) churches in the Central Luzon; and Rev. Fr. Robert Arellano, LRMS, in charge of another seven (7) churches in the Southern Luzon.
On January 1–6, 2023, as part of the community engagement of the Quiapo Church to its local community, the replica image of the Black Nazarene was brought out for a Barangay Mass Visitation to one community to the other under the jurisdiction of the Quiapo Church as a parish. This practice serves as the avenue for the priests of Quiapo Church to personally meet their parishioners in their communities. This custom has been followed for years as a way for the church to show its members that they still play a part in the grand celebration despite how well-known it has become over time.
Moving toward the event’s peak, the midnight mass of January 7, 2023, at the Luneta Grandstand was presided by Rev. Fr. Hans Magdurulang, Parochial Vicar of Quiapo Church. This event signaled the beginning of the pagpupugay, which drew 20,895 devotees who afterward queued for the opportunity to touch the replica image of the Black Nazarene to express their gesture of praise and thanksgiving to the Nazareno. The pagpupugay has been adapted in lieu of the traditional pahalik or kissing of the image, which has been discouraged due to the threat of COVID-19. On the same date, Rev. Fr. Earl Allyson Valdez, an Attached Priest in Quiapo Church, presided over another mass at 6 a.m. at the Luneta Grandstand for the volunteers and inter-agency partners who had assisted Quiapo Church throughout the entire planning process up until the conclusion of the series of events.
Devotees line up to venerate the image of the Black Nazarene at the Quirino Grandstand marking the start of the pagpupugay (Photos by Social Communications Ministry (SOCCOMM), Quiapo Church)
On January 8, 2023, the second midnight mass at the Luneta Grandstand was presided over by Rev. Fr. Rufino C. Sescon, Jr., Rector and Parish Priest of the Quiapo Church. There were 110,548 faithful in attendance at the midnight mass, which fell on the solemnity of the Epiphany of the Lord. Following the liturgy, over 88,000 believers made the walk of faith from the Luneta Grandstand toward the Quiapo Church while holding candles and miniature images of the Black Nazarene. The Nazareno 2023 had taken on a calm and solemn appearance that set it apart from previous celebrations. The lengthy Traslacion or ‘transfer’ of the Black Nazarene image that is mounted on the andas, a huge and formidable carozza from where the Hijos del Nazareno navigate the procession from the Luneta Grandstand back to the Quiapo Church, is a hallmark of the traditional style of Traslacion. The Quiapo Church’s first-ever and continuous thirty-three (33) fiesta masses began on that precise date as well; they lasted from 3 p.m. until 11 p.m. on January 9, with about 798,472 people participated.
Participating devotees in the ‘Walk of Faith’ in lieu of the traditional Traslacion procession (Photos by Social Communications Ministry (SOCCOMM), Quiapo Church)
His Eminence Jose F. Cardinal Advincula, Jr., D.D., presided over the ‘Misa Mayor’, for the pontifical mass for the feast of the Black Nazarene 2023, at the Luneta Grandstand on January 9, 2023. One hundred thirty-five (135) clergy members, including Most Revs. Antonio R. Tobias, D.D., and Teodoro Bacani, D.D., known as Bishops Emeritus of the Diocese of Novaliches, participated in the service. Almost 122,710 people attended the Misa Mayor of the Cardinal at the same time.
His Eminence Jose F. Cardinal Advincula, Jr., D.D., presided over the ‘Misa Mayor’ marking the celebration of Nazareno 2023 (Photos by Social Communications Ministry (SOCCOMM), Quiapo Church)
Despite the pandemic threat, the NAZARENO 2023 celebration has been remarkable. This difficult circumstance demonstrates the Black Nazarene followers’ tenacity of faith and dedication, that have been their fortress in extremely trying circumstances. Hence, whether there is a Traslacion or a walk of faith, faith and devotion must remain in the light of the Holy Eucharist in order to fully honor Nuestro Padre Jesus Nazareno. Furthermore, this may be the message that the Lord of the Black Nazarene sends to his devotees during this time of the pandemic: Bring back the centrality of the Holy Eucharist!
– Alfrein O. Quirionez | EIAM & ADRM