The Black Nazarene is a life-sized, dark-skinned, wooden sculpture of Jesus Christ held to be miraculous by its devotees. Its original carver was an anonymous Aztec carpenter, and the image was transported by galleon from Mexico. The image is currently enshrined in the Minor Basilica of the Black Nazarene in Quiapo, Manila, Philippines.
The statue was brought to Manila by the first group of Augustinian Recollect friars on May 31, 1606. The image was originally housed in the first Recollect church in Bagumbayan (now part of the Rizal Park), which was inaugurated on September 10, 1606, and placed under the patronage of Saint John the Baptist.
In 1608, the image of the “Nazareno” was transferred to the second, bigger Recollect church dedicated to San Nicolas de Tolentino (Saint Nicholas of Tolentine). The Recollect Fathers vigorously promoted devotion to the Suffering of Our Lord represented by the image that in fifteen short years, the Cofradia de Jesús Nazareno was established on April 21, 1621. The confraternity obtained Papal approval on April 20, 1650, from Pope Innocent X.
Sometime in the year 1787, then Archbishop of Manila, Basilio Sancho de Santas Junta y Rufina, ordered the transfer of the image of the Nazareno to the church in Quiapo, again providently placed under the patronage of Saint John the Baptist.
The image survived the great fires that destroyed Quiapo Church in 1791 and 1929, the great earthquakes of 1645 and 1863, and the destructive bombing of Manila in 1945 during World War II.
Recently, however, in 1998, a replica of the original Black Nazarene was first paraded due to the repeated damages inflicted on the statue. Today this replica is still used in the processions while the original rests inside the church, and other, even smaller replicas can be found in other churches.
A black Christ ?
The Black Nazarene is a more than 200-year-old statue.
Black? One tale is telling that during the Spanish colonial period missionaries brought an icon to Manila. During the trip however, there was a fire on board and the icon, the Nazarene, caught fire. Despite its charred condition, the Nazarene was kept save and honored from then on.
The statue is to be seen in the Saint John the Baptist Church in Quiapo in Manila, where it has been housed since 1787.
A miracle after touching the statue?
During the feast of the Black Nazarene thousands of barefoot men join the annual procession. Walking barefoot during the procession is seen as a sign of humility.
During this procession the men yell “Viva Señor”.
Everybody who is in the neighborhood of the cross tries to touch the statue. People believe that a miracle can happen after touching it.
The statue was bought by a priest in Mexico and brought to Manila in 1606.