By Dhel Nazario
A towel-waving crowd unmoved by the surging procession chanting “Viva!” greeted the carriage carrying the image of the Black Nazarene, which made an early return to Quiapo Church just before 9 p.m. on Thursday.
Devotees shed tears as the carriage carrying the image slowly entered the church. For many, the emotional outpouring was an inexplicable phenomenon that they experienced upon witnessing the image of the Black Nazarene.
A throng of barefoot devotees endured the 16-hour procession, the fastest one in several years, and displayed their unwavering faith in spite of the grueling march from Quirino Grandstand to Quiapo Church.
Despite the narrow streets of the new route of the “Traslacion” this year, the “andas” or carriage carrying the image of the Black Nazarene travelled swiftly and made an early return compared to the 2 a.m. arrival at the church last year.
Moreover, the “Dungaw,” the meeting of the image of the Black Nazarene and the Lady of Mt. Carmel in front of San Sebastian Church along Bilibid Viejo Street, concluded while it was still daylight, at 4:43 p.m., a rare occurrence because previous Traslacions would reach this point after dark.
Devotee after devotee fainted after the solemn ceremony due to the thick crowd converging on the carriage, coupled with the narrow passage to get to J.P de Guzman Street.
Still, the carriage was able to move on and arrived at the next station at J.P. De Guzman Street at around 6:30 in the evening. It then turned right on Hidalgo Street and made it to Quezon Boulevard at 7:30 in the evening.
As it neared Quiapo Church, the crowd of devotees continued to thicken in hopes of getting near the image of the Black Nazarene, believed to heal even the worst illnesses.
After reaching the church, some devotees began to leave the vicinity of Quiapo Church, while others patiently waited for the mass to be held after the blessing of the devotees.