Over 200 Injured as 1.5 Million Filipinos Throng ‘Healing’ Idol Marched Through Streets

MANILA — Over 200 were injured on Monday as an estimated 1.5 million Filipinos sought to press up against a centuries-old statue of Christ that was marched through the streets of Manila as part of an annual Roman Catholic celebration called the Feast of the Black Nazarene.

As previously reported, Catholics in the country, some holding rosaries, banners and/or cloths, seek to touch the wood carving of Jesus carrying the cross out of their belief that it possesses healing powers or can bring good fortune.

“If you seek a favor, it will be granted as long as you pray hard,” Lolit Gonzales, 45, told the Manila Times. She asserted that she had been healed of a knee injury after participating in the event two years ago.

“The Nazarene has given me everything: a stable job and health for my family,” Armando Bantayaun, 57, also told reporters.

The carving, known as the Black Nazarene for the figure’s dark complexion, is believed to have been brought from Mexico to Manila in the 1600’s. It was carried aboard a ship, and although the vessel caught fire, it was not destroyed.

For the past 200 years, millions have flooded the streets as the wooden carving is carried through Manila for its annual feast day.

This year was no exception, as some followers along the 20-hour procession tossed cloths to those who were adjacent to the carriage, hoping that they could swipe the idol for them. Some walked barefoot in the 30-degree weather to show penance and to recreate Jesus’ supposed barefoot act of carrying the cross.

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“It’s part of my sacrifice,” Kath Espino, 28, told the Latin American Herald Tribune, advising that she asked the Nazarene that she conceive a child.

Johnny Yu, who leads the Manila Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Office (MDDRMO), told the Philippine Inquirer that most the injuries were minor, but three women who fell after attempting to climb up on the carriage that was carrying the statue were nearly trampled to death. Seven others were also injured after being struck by falling steel railings.

A number of those participating in the procession collapsed, suffered bruises, or complained of elevated blood pressure along the route.

Cheramie Ko, a business owner, told reporters that she has decided to keep her distance after almost being seriously injured in the past.

“I fell in the midst of an avalanche of people and I thought I was going to die until someone managed to pull me out,” she recalled. “I had bruises all over my body. It was a very traumatic experience for me and my family, so I’ve been staying on the sidelines ever since.”

Over 5,000 police were sent to oversee the procession along its route, which began at 5:00 a.m. Monday morning. Despite the injuries, authorities characterized the event as being “peaceful and solemn.”

Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte issued remarks in favor of the observance.

“Good fortunes are usually borne out of hard work and perseverance. Prayers are likely answered because we do not give up or get tired from asking God for the fulfillment of our heart’s desires,” he said. “Such is the phenomenal expression of faith of the millions of devotees in the form of gratitude, petition, and sacrifice shown in the image of the Black Nazarene every feast day on the 9th of January every year.”

Duterte had made local headlines recently after telling those who take issue with this foul language to complain to God.

“If you have something against me, about my mouth, about my character, go to God and complain. He was the one who made me. He is the one to be blamed, not me,” he said.

As previously reported, the vast majority of Filipinos—approximately 80 percent—are Roman Catholic. Only an estimated 2.8 percent of the population professes to be evangelical Christian.

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  • RWH

    What is the purpose for posting this other than to make Catholics and the Catholic Church look bad? Isn’t there something more productive and spiritually enlightening?

  • Joshua 1:9

    One of the highest forms of evil in this world are the people who try to deceive the world into believing they are the true faith, but yet they are so far from Christ. This is yet another incident that shows Catholocism is a false religion. The irony of this story is that a massive amount of “believers” were badly injured while in the presence of one of the many false idols they worship, thinking this one “heals”. “It heals”, yet they were badly injured. I suppose my question to these people is, “Where is your god now?”

  • Off Shore

    2 Timothy 3:5-7

    5 having a form of godliness but denying its power. Have nothing to do with such people. 6 They are the kind who worm their way into homes and gain control over gullible women, who are loaded down with sins and are swayed by all kinds of evil desires, 7 always learning but never able to come to a knowledge of the truth.

  • Tangent002

    I guess those 200+ people can pray to have their injuries healed.

  • Charles

    (Exo 20:4) Thou shalt not make unto thee any graven image, or any likeness of any thing that is in heaven above, or that is in the earth beneath, or that is in the water under the earth:
    (Exo 20:5) Thou shalt not bow down thyself to them, nor serve them: for I the LORD thy God am a jealous God, visiting the iniquity of the fathers upon the children unto the third and fourth generation of them that hate me;
    (Exo 20:6) And shewing mercy unto thousands of them that love me, and keep my commandments.

    • antifasciste

      Examples of idols; cross, crucifix, nativity scene, statue of Mary, picture of the likeness of Jesus, American Flag, etc….

      • Grace Kim Kwon

        The existence of those entities is okay if not worshipped. People need something to remind what is important. The Catholics worship dead saints through the use of statues; that’s the problem.

        • antifasciste

          I can remember what is important without trinkets and symbolic doo-dads. I’ve also moved past the 16th century anti-catholic rhetoric.

          • Grace Kim Kwon

            They help. What do you decorate your home with? What do those remind you of? Truth-telling is not anti-Catholic. Everyone needs God’s truth to live. He condemned idol-worships.

      • Joshua 1:9

        I do not have a crucifix hanging in my home, nor a cross around my neck. I also do not believe in hanging any national flag on my property. I do not have a picture or any physical likeness of Jesus in my home, nor do I set up a nativity scene for the holidays. As far as the “anti-Catholic rhetoric” as you call it, I do tell the truth. Catholicism is a very dangerous and evil cult. It has intently steered many would-be (and had-been) Christians away from true Biblical teachings. Everyday, I pray for the closure of every Catholic “church” throughout the entire world, and for every Catholic eye to be opened to the true Jesus and why He exists.

  • Grace Kim Kwon

    Catholics need to read the Holy Bible and stop the idol worship. Things haven’t changed much for the last 500 years. In some Protestant churches, the big screens for entertainment purpose took over the role of the Catholic statues. The Church must stay pure for the Lord Jesus and give up unclean things.

  • Yet men still believe that the Roman Church is the church of Jesus Christ, established by Simon Peter.

    1 Corinthians 10:14, “Wherefore, my dearly beloved, flee from idolatry.”