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January 09, 2019 11:19 AM IST | Economy

Filipinos display Catholic devotion in Black Nazarene procession

Hundreds of thousands of Filipinos joined an annual procession in the Philippine capital to kiss or touch a centuries-old black wooden statue of Jesus Christ, believed to have miraculous healing powers, in a grand display of Catholic devotion.

The devotees, mostly walking barefoot, surrounded the carriage bearing the life-sized image of the "Black Nazarene" shouldering a heavy cross as it paraded through the city.

Many of them, in yellow and maroon shirts, threw white towels to people on the carriage to wipe on the statue, while others jostled to touch the thick ropes used to pull the carriage, believing the slightest touch would bless and heal their illnesses.

About 80 percent of the more than 100 million people of the Philippines are Roman Catholic. The Philippines is renowned for its colourful religious rituals, and the celebration of the "Black Nazarene" is a tradition in the former Spanish colony that goes back more than two centuries.

Devotees surround the statue of the Black Nazarene as the annual procession begins on its feast day in Manila, Philippines, January 9, 2019. REUTERS/Eloisa Lopez
Devotees surround the statue of the Black Nazarene as the annual procession begins on its feast day in Manila, Philippines, January 9, 2019. REUTERS/Eloisa Lopez
Catholic devotees jostle to touch the statue of the Black Nazarene on its feast day in Manila, Philippines, January 9, 2019. REUTERS/Eloisa Lopez
Catholic devotees jostle to touch the statue of the Black Nazarene on its feast day in Manila, Philippines, January 9, 2019. REUTERS/Eloisa Lopez
Catholic devotees jostle to touch the statue of the Black Nazarene on its feast day in Manila, Philippines, January 9, 2019. It is not known why the statue, which was carved in Mexico, turned black. There are myths that the original statue donated by Spanish priests was burned as a fire erupted on the ship that carried it to the Philippines in the early 17th century.. REUTERS/Eloisa Lopez
Catholic devotees jostle to touch the statue of the Black Nazarene on its feast day in Manila, Philippines, January 9, 2019. It is not known why the statue, which was carved in Mexico, turned black. There are myths that the original statue donated by Spanish priests was burned as a fire erupted on the ship that carried it to the Philippines in the early 17th century.. REUTERS/Eloisa Lopez
Devotees carry the statue of the Black Nazarene as the annual procession begins on its feast day in Manila, Philippines, January 9, 2019. REUTERS/Eloisa Lopez
Devotees carry the statue of the Black Nazarene as the annual procession begins on its feast day in Manila, Philippines, January 9, 2019. REUTERS/Eloisa Lopez
Devotees surround the statue of the Black Nazarene as the annual procession begins on its feast day in Manila, Philippines, January 9, 2019. REUTERS/Eloisa Lopez
Devotees surround the statue of the Black Nazarene as the annual procession begins on its feast day in Manila, Philippines, January 9, 2019. REUTERS/Eloisa Lopez
Catholic devotees jostle to touch the statue of the Black Nazarene on its feast day in Manila, Philippines, January 9, 2019. Wednesday's procession, which is expected to last around 20 hours, is expected to draw 5 million people. REUTERS/Soe Zeya Tun
Catholic devotees jostle to touch the statue of the Black Nazarene on its feast day in Manila, Philippines, January 9, 2019. Wednesday's procession, which is expected to last around 20 hours, is expected to draw 5 million people. REUTERS/Soe Zeya Tun
Catholic devotees jostle to touch the statue of the Black Nazarene on its feast day in Manila, Philippines, January 9, 2019. Close to 300,000 were in the Manila procession, based on an early morning estimate by police, excluding those waiting elsewhere along its more than six-kilometre route. REUTERS/Soe Zeya Tun
Catholic devotees jostle to touch the statue of the Black Nazarene on its feast day in Manila, Philippines, January 9, 2019. Close to 300,000 were in the Manila procession, based on an early morning estimate by police, excluding those waiting elsewhere along its more than six-kilometre route. REUTERS/Soe Zeya Tun
Catholic devotees jostle to touch the statue of the Black Nazarene on its feast day in Manila, Philippines, January 9, 2019. REUTERS/Soe Zeya Tun
Catholic devotees jostle to touch the statue of the Black Nazarene on its feast day in Manila, Philippines, January 9, 2019. REUTERS/Soe Zeya Tun
Catholic devotees wait to touch the statue of the Black Nazarene on its feast day in Manila, Philippines, Philippines, January 9, 2019. REUTERS/Soe Zeya Tun
Catholic devotees wait to touch the statue of the Black Nazarene on its feast day in Manila, Philippines, Philippines, January 9, 2019. REUTERS/Soe Zeya Tun
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