Filipino Catholics celebrate mega parade

More than a million Christians in the Philippines walked barefoot in the capital Manila during one of the world’s largest religious festivals. Since the early hours of Tuesday morning (local time), worshipers have been paying their respects to the life-size statue of Jesus, dubbed the “Black Nazarene”, as it passes through the city in a six-kilometre procession. In the last three years, the mega event has been canceled due to the corona pandemic.

Officials expected the number of participants in the hour-long procession to rise above two million, the same number as before the pandemic. Many Filipinos believe that the statue works miracles. 5,600 police officers were supposed to ensure the safety of believers.

For the first time, the figure of Jesus was paraded around Manila in a glass container to prevent participants from climbing the float and touching it with their hands or towels and handkerchiefs. Many Filipinos believe that the glands have magical powers and can heal the sick. Still, some at least tried to touch the container. Others held on to the rope that pulled the car through the crowd.

The island nation, along with tiny East Timor, is the only Catholic-majority country in Asia. More than 80 percent are Catholic.

According to the Philippine Red Cross, 180 patients had to be treated in the first hours of the procession, suffering from fainting spells, bruises and difficulty breathing. The government declared Tuesday a public holiday in Manila. The sale of alcohol was banned.

The wooden Jesus figure was said to have been brought to Manila from Mexico by missionaries in 1606 and survived a ship fire. He was later called the Black Nazarene. The procession commemorates how the figure was brought to the church in the Quiapo region in the 18th century.

(APA/dpa)

Source: Vienna

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