Nuestro Padre Jesús Nazareno
Poóng Itím na Nazareno
|Location||Quiapo, Manila, Philippines|
Acapulco, Guerrero, Mexico
Basílio Sancho de Santa Justa y Rufina, S.P., Archbishop of Manila
|Approval||Pope Innocent X|
Pope Pius VII
|Shrine||Minor Basilica of the Black Nazarene|
|Patronage||Quiapo, Manila, Filipino people, Philippines|
|Attributes||Dark skin, maroon and gold vestments, the Cross|
The Black Nazarene (Spanish: El Nazareno Negro, Nuestro Padre Jesús Nazareno; Filipino: Poóng Itím na Nazareno, Hesus Nazareno) is a life-sized image of a dark-skinned, kneeling Jesus Christ carrying the Cross enshrined in the Minor Basilica of the Black Nazarene in the Quiapo district of the City of Manila, Philippines.
The dark wooden image was carved by an anonymous Mexican artist in the 16th century and then brought to the Philippines in 1606. It depicts Jesus en route to his crucifixion. Pope Innocent X granted recognition to the lay Confraternity of Santo Cristo Jesús Nazareno in 1650 for the promotion of the devotion to Jesus through the icon. It was housed in various churches near Manila in the early decades, arriving in Quiapo Church in 1787 where it has been enshrined ever since. The icon is renowned in the Philippines and is considered by many Filipino Catholics to be miraculous; its mere touch is reputed to cure disease. It attracts homage from numerous devotees, who bear it in mass processions.
The image (in recent years a composite replica) is removed from its shrine in procession three times a year: January 9, the Feast of the Black Nazarene (the anniversary of the icon's translation), Good Friday (the Nazarene's proper liturgical feast, commemorating the culmination of the Passion), and December 31 (New Year's Eve, the first day of its annual novena). The January 9 procession re-enacts the image's Traslación (literally "transfer") in 1787, or "solemn transfer" to the Minor Basilica from its original shrine inside Intramuros. The January 9 Traslación is the largest of the three processions, drawing millions of devotees trying to touch the image and lasting 22 hours at most.
The Black Nazarene is venerated by Filipino devotees every Friday. Along with the Santo Niño (Child Jesus), it is the most popular object of devotion in the Philippines. A similar image called Cristo Negro is venerated in Portobelo, Panama.
The image derives its name from "Nazarene", a title of Christ identifying him as a native of Nazareth in Galilee and from its dark complexion — something uncommon amongst Philippine depictions of Jesus.
The image's wooden base is referred to as the peana while its carriage or carroza used in processions is called the ándas (from the Spanish andar, "to move forward"). The term ándas commonly refers to the shoulder-borne palanquins of religious images, and was retained for the icon's carriage that replaced the silver palanquins used until the late 20th century.
The Original Poón and the Vicário
There is no one Poón of the Black Nazarene as there are several images and replicas in different combinations. The Vicário is the processional image, used for the annual Traslación, as well as the New Year's Eve and Good Friday processions. The head of the original Black Nazarene or Poón is on the image enshrined in the high altar, which has a body made of Philippine molave wood (Vitex parviflora or Vitex cofassus). The original right hand of the Poón is kept in the office of the rector and parish priest, and is used for blessing people, especially the sick and dying. The Vicário, on the other hand, retains the original torso, with a replica head of batikulíng (Litsea leytensis) wood.
Aside from the original Poón on the high altar and the Vicário, the basilica also owns three replicas of the image, called Callejeros. These are sent to visit shrines in across the different Catholic dioceses in the country.
The image was made by an anonymous Mexican sculptor and arrived in Manila via galleon from Acapulco, Mexico on May 31, 1606. Folk belief attributes the colour of the image to soot from votive candles burnt before it, although the most popular legend is that it was charred by a fire on the galleon that brought it from Mexico.
Monsignor Sabino A. Vengco Jr. from Loyola School of Theology meanwhile noted that the image was not charred, but in fact dark through to its core as it was carved from mesquite wood. Vengco based this claim on personal research in Mexico, where he said mesquite wood was a popular medium in the period the image was carved. He also likened it to Our Lady of Antipolo, another popular image of similar provenance and appearance.
The image was first enshrined in the Church of San Juan Bautista of the Augustinian Recollects in Bagumbayan, Luneta. In 1608, the image was transferred to the Church of San Nicolás de Tolentino (popularly known as the "Recoletos Church") inside Intramuros. It was enshrined in the retablo mayor or high altar of the church, leaving only for a procession on Palm Sunday. Both the church and the image were destroyed in the Allied bombardment of Manila during its liberation in 1945.
On January 9, 1787, the Augustinian Recollects donated a copy of the image to the Church of the Camisa (later renamed Quiapo Church). This donation is celebrated by the faithful every January 9 by means of a procession (the Traslación) from Quiapo Church to Rizal Park (where the aforementioned Church of San Juan Bautista, the image's first home once stood in Bagumbayan) and back to Quiapo.
In the 1990s, the Archdiocese of Manila feared that the image might be damaged during the Traslación, fire, or natural disaster. It commissioned Gener Maglaqui, Filipino santero (saint-maker, a sculptor of religious images), to sculpt a replica of the head and body. The Augustinian Recollects head of 1787 now sits atop the 1990s body, which remains enshrined behind the church's main altar. The 1990s head was placed atop the Augustinian Recollects body. It is this composite which is used during major processions.
The Black Nazarene's head wears a braided wig made of dark, dyed abacá, along with a golden Crown of Thorns. Attached to the Crown are the traditional "Tres Potencias" ("three powers") halo, variously understood as symbolising the three powers of the Holy Trinity; the faculties of will, memory, and understanding in Christ’s soul; or his exousia (authority), dunamis (power), and kratos (strength). These three rayos ("rays"), likely an angular variant of the cruciform halo, are used exclusively for and proper to images of Jesus Christ in traditional Filipino and Hispanic iconography to signify his divinity. The original image has lost several fingers over the centuries.
Jesus is shown barefoot and in a genuflecting posture, symbolising the agony and the weight of the Cross, along with the overall pain Christ endured during his Passion. The Cross itself is of black wood tipped with flat, pyramidal brass caps.
The image is always dressed in a heavy velvet tunic of maroon, embroidered with floral and plant emblems in gold thread, and trimmed with a matching set of white lace collar and cuffs. Around the waist is a gold-plated metal belt embossed with the word "NAZARENO", while a golden chain ending in spheres is looped around the neck and held in the left hand, representing the Scourging.
The image's vestments are changed in the ritual Pabihis (Tagalog for “dressing"), which is presided over by a priest vested in an alb, red cope and stole. Devotees watching the ceremony either sit inside the Basilica, or follow along outside in Plaza Miranda. The rite comprises with several hymns, the reading of scriptural lessons, the recitation of prayers, and then the blessing of the new vestments. As a sign of modesty and reverence, a curtain is raised to shield the statue from public view as the Hijos change its vestments, and then it is dropped once the actual changing is complete. The old vestments are folded and presented to the faithful, who queue to kiss and touch these in the belief these bear the image's miraculous properties. The Pabihis is done five times a year in preparation for major religious occasions.
Pope Innocent X approved veneration of the image in 1650 as a sacramental, and authorised the establishment of the Confraternity of the Most Holy Jesus Nazarene (Spanish: Cofradía de Nuestro Santo Jesús Nazareno).
Veneration of the Black Nazarene is rooted among Filipinos who strongly identify with the passion and suffering of Christ the image depicts. Many devotees of the Black Nazarene relate their poverty and daily struggles to the Passion of Christ.
At the end of each Mass said in the Basilica, devotees pay homage to the image by clapping their hands. In addition to the novena, Traslación, Pahalík, and the Pabihis, the Pasindí ("lighting") or lighting of votive candles is another popular devotion, as is the decades-old, reverential custom of creeping on one's knees down the main aisle towards the altar and image.
The Friday of each week in the year (except Good Friday, the image's liturgical commemoration) is colloquially known in Metro Manila as "Quiapo Day", since the novena for the image is held on this day nationwide. As with Wednesday (which is comparably called "Baclaran Day"), this day is associated with heavy traffic around the Basilica due to the influx of devotees and pilgrims.
The attached Nazarene Catholic School (formerly the Quiapo Parochial School) reflects the devotion of school authorities; its official newsletter is likewise named "The Nazarene", with pupils called "Nazareñans."
The largest annual procession for the Black Nazarene is the January 9 Traslación procession on the Feast of the Black Nazarene, attracting millions of Catholic devotees, who try to touch or get their towel wiped by the image carriers on the image to attain its blessings and power. Along with Santo Niño (Child Jesus), it is the most popular object of devotion in the Philippines. In 2011, over six million Catholic devotees flocked to the Feast of the Black Nazarene.
The hymn Nuestro Padre Jesús Nazareno was composed by National Artist for Music Lucio San Pedro to honour the image. It is used by the Basilica and other churches as the official anthem to the image, its devotion, and associated rites.
According to Jaime Laya, the devotional worship of Black Nazarene of Quiapo is idolatry, adding it may be a continuation of possibly pre-Christian local ritual practices. Elizabeth Pisares also states that this is idolatry, and suggests its link with social disparities among Filipinos.
In contrast, according to the Basilica’s rector Monsignor José Clemente Ignacio, the procession and overall devotion is not idolatry but a reflection of the "Filipino trait to want to wipe, touch, kiss, or embrace sacred objects if possible", and that it is belief in "the presence of the Divine in sacred objects and places". According to Mariano Barbato, the debate over the icon is centred on questions of what constitutes idolatry, when an icon becomes a false god, and what makes the annual processions idolatrous.
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