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Manila all set for bigger Black Nazarene feast

Organizers expect 20 million devotees to take part in annual procession

Manila all set for bigger Black Nazarene feast

Thousands of devotees of the Black Nazarene join a thanksgiving procession in Manila's Quiapo district on Dec. 31, the start of the nine-day prayer period ahead of the feast on Jan 9. (Photo by Angie de Silva)

January 3, 2018

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Up to 20 million people are expected to attend this year's Feast of the Black Nazarene in Manila's Quiapo district on Jan. 9.

Police spokeswoman, Superintendent Lucille Faycho, said the number of people attending this year's celebration is expected to be more than last year's estimated 18 million.

"Based on church estimates there is a significant increase yearly," she told a media briefing in Manila on Jan. 3.

The highlight of the annual festival is the religious procession that draws millions of people who walk barefoot for hours either as a sign of penance or to give thanks for blessings received.

"We are 100 percent ready for the feast," said Father Douglas Badong, vicar of the Minor Basilica of the Black Nazarene in Quiapo district.

He said activities ahead of the feast began on Dec. 31.

The priest said he hopes that this year's procession can be over in 12 hours. "Last year it lasted 21 hours," the priest said.

This year's procession will have a new feature — 12 prayer stations that will be set up along the way.

Monsignor Hernando Coronel, rector of the Minor Basilica of the Black Nazarene, said the prayer stations will make the event "more religious and spiritual."

The Black Nazarene is a life-sized, dark-colored, wooden sculpture of Jesus Christ that was brought to Manila by Augustinian friars in 1607.

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