'Black Jesus' procession draws 380000 in Manila

Manila churchmen appeal for clean Black Nazarene feast

Hundreds of devotees join the first Black Nazarene procession in San Fernando, La Union Tuesday afternoon.

Classes at all levels and work at the Manila city hall are suspended for the feast of the Black Nazarene on January 9, Mayor Joseph Estrada announced yesterday.

After the 3.7 kilometer procession, a concelebrated mass held at the chapel of Our Lady of Fatima with Rev. Fr. Dom Ramos, SVD as officiating priest.

"I will be the hermano mayor again for the feast of the Black of Nazarene", Estrada said.

Sapitula cited the numerous blessings and miracles attributed to the Black Nazarene.

The official also said that Estrada suspended work at the city hall except the department directly involved in the event.

Up to 20 million people are expected to flock to the Philippine capital's Quiapo district starting this weekend for the annual religious observance.

In 2006, a male devotee died after a wooden plank covering a manhole collapsed.

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More than 4,000 police and soldiers were deployed to ensure the procession was be peaceful, said Manila's police chief, Oscar Albayalde.

Fr. Douglas Badong, parochial vicar of the Quiapo Church said they are "100 percent ready".

Estrada said he "can only encourage the national government offices and the private office of Manila to exercise prudence and sound discretion in suspending work for the safety and welfare of their employees and personnel".

Aside from the thanksgiving procession last December 31, Badong said there would be a procession of the replicas of the image of the Black Nazarene on January 7.

Guide to the "traslacion" procession.

The city's top traffic cop, Superintendent Lucile Faycho, said the estimate was based on the number of attendees over the last six years.

"We hope that the procession would be shorter this year". The traslacion also introduced 12 prayer stations along the new route.

Last year, it took 22 hours for the andas (carriage) carrying the icon to complete the route.

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