Thursday, February 9, 2012

The Black Nazarene

Black is beautiful
Religious articles that survive catastrophes are often seen as signs of hope and of God's affirmation that life will go on. However, rare is it that such a religious article has miraculous powers. Such it is with the image of The Black Nazarene. A brief history:
The image of the Black Nazarene dates back to the 17th century when it was brought to the Philippines by a Spanish priest onboard a galleon (a Spanish ship used in trade). When the ship caught fire, the image was burned and thus came to be known as the Black Nazarene.
Though the image was burnt, the people decided to preserve and honor it. Since then, miraculous things have been reported to happen to those who touch the image. And with every report of the miracle said to be given by the Black Nazarene, devotees gradually increased in number.
  • May 10, 1606 – image of the Black Nazarene arrived in Manila and was first enthroned in the first church of the Recoletos in San Juan de Bagong Bayan
  • 1608 – the statue of the Black Nazarene was transferred to Intramuros
  • January 9, 1787 – it was transferred to its permanent residence in Saint John  the Baptist church, popularly known as the Minor Basilica of the Black Nazarene
  • Spanish era - devotees organized themselves in confraternities called Cofradia
The Cofradia started as a group with purely male members who came from financially stable and well-off families.
As years went by, female members were also accepted and the Sub-Cofradia was established with members coming from the common people of the community. With the increasing number of devotees, the group named Archi-Cofradia was then made to organize all the existing Cofradias.
At present, the heir of these Cofradias is known as the Hijos del Nazareno Hesus. The ladies are called the Ladies of the Black Nazarene. The devotees now come from all levels of society with the majority coming from the sector of the poor and the laboring class.
Over the years, the image of the Black Nazarene has endured numerous disasters such as storms, earthquakes and fires. In the 1990s, however, the Black Nazarene's left cheek was damaged by a gunshot.

And, if you're asking, it does have papal approval. Pope Innocent X in 1650 set up the "Cofradia" and encouraged devotion to the Black Nazarene.