Through the years, the early part of January gathers the devotees of the Black Nazarene for a series of events and masses, which culminates in the Traslacion — the transfer of the image’s copy from Quirino Grandstand to its home in Quiapo Church — every Jan. 9.
It was always a sight to behold, seeing thousands of barefoot devotees “battle it out” to reach the image, touch the rope, or just to wave a cloth in front of the Black Nazarene. Aerial photos showed the thick crowds enthralled as the “andas” or carriage passed by them, which moved inch by inch. Their faces showed no struggle, pain, or fatigue, but revealed only gratitude from answered prayers or continuous blessings from the miraculous image.
Traslacion is not only a religious ceremony but a part of our nation’s history. But like any event “disrupted” by this pandemic, especially with the surge of new COVID cases these past few days, the IATF has approved the recommendation to suspend the Traslacion and other activities related to the Feast of the Black Nazarene. The Minor Basilica of the Black Nazarene, also called Quiapo Church, will also be closed today. Instead of physical masses, online masses will be conducted by the church.
The Manila LGU is also supporting the decision to cancel the Traslacion and other physical activities. Manila Mayor Francisco “Isko Moreno” Domagoso said although this is the second year that there will be no Traslacion, this year would be stricter due to the unprecedented surge of COVID cases.
“Last year, there were still masses so we implemented lines and physical distancing among the devotees. But this year, there will be no events, no physical mass, no video wall since the church will be closed,” the Mayor said. Instead, he advised the devotees to attend the mass online.
The World Health Organization (WHO), in an online statement, has also lent its voice to dissuade the devotees from physically going to the church. Dr. Rabindra Abeyasinghe, WHO representative to the Philippines, said, “Our alarming situation calls for safer ways to celebrate traditions. We appeal to devotees—please stay at home to help limit the spread of COVID-19 and its variants. Doing so is an act of kindness. We need to protect each other, especially our elderly and those with underlying medical conditions. They can most easily catch the virus and possibly suffer its worst consequences—severe disease, hospitalization, and even death.”
Though there were some disgruntled devotees who have expressed their disappointment for missing the religious ritual two years in a row, others understood the situation and called for more patience. The sooner each of us cooperates, the earlier we could emerge from this pandemic. Besides, true devotees live the Black Nazareth in their hearts each day, and not only during the Jan. 9 Traslacion.
Wherever you are today, whether you are a religious person or not, join the devotees in the online mass, and pray for the Black Nazareth to heal the sick, to comfort the anxious, and to lift the hopeless. Viva Señor Jesus Nazareno!