Naga City’s 34 years of devotion to the Black Nazarene
By Apol Baldemor
The celebration of the feast of the Black Nazarene is one of the major devotional practices in Naga City for 34 years now. Hundreds of devotees attended the nine novena masses that started last December 31, 2022, and ended on January 8,2023 at the Holy Cross Parish in Barangay Tabuco, Naga City. For nine days, devotees from different parts of Bicol attended the religious rites for the Black Nazarene: rosary, singing of perdon, novena, and a Holy Mass. The replica of the Black Nazarene was transported from St. Joseph Parish in Palsong, Bula, Camarines Sur, on the same day the novena mass started. On the last night of the novenario, the image, together with the image of Our Lady of Peace and Good Voyage, also known as the Our Lady of Antipolo, was then transferred to Plaza Quezon by way of a foot procession. The images were enthroned there in preparation for the feast of the Black Nazarene day the following day.
On January 9, thousands of devotees attended the Holy Masses at the Plaza Quezon for the feast day of the Black Nazarene. Many lined up for the pahadok (kissing of the image), had their religious items blessed, and joined the traslacion procession back to the Holy Cross Parish, where the image stayed before it was brought back to its original home in Bula. During the feast day, five fiesta masses were celebrated before the penitential foot procession. It coincided with the traditional celebration in Quiapo, Manila.
Due to Covid-19, the pahadok this year was a tad different from the previous years. Fr. Eugene Lubigan, parish priest of the Holy Cross Parish, said that instead of the traditional pahadok where devotees can kiss the image, the Hijos de Nazareno Bicol Unit Assocation members distributed cotton balls with rose or baby oil to touch and wipe the image with it. Certain health and safety protocols were observed by the devotees.
The Gospel that day was about the baptism of Jesus. It speaks about devotion, humbling one’s self and learning how to listen and follow God’s will. In spite of the bad weather that morning, the number of devotees who flocked to Plaza Quezon showed their devotion to the Black Nazarene. They have shown their willingness to follow the will of God and have sacrificed to show their love for Jesus. As the Black Nazarene carries the cross on His shoulder, we are all reminded that Jesus loves us and has humbled himself to carry us towards God’s grace.
According to Fr. Lubigan, the celebration of the feast of the Black Nazarene was a success. “It was faith-enriching for several reasons. First, the devotees were able to express their faith freelig for the first time during the pandemic as health protocols were relaxed. The celebration of the Masses, novena and the foot penitential processions are the faithful’s devotional expressions that are restored. Second, the image of the Black Nazarene gives hope to those whose faith has been shaken due to the pandemic and other life’s burdens. Third, the significant increase in the number of devotees who came this year is a sign that in times of difficulties, faith in God is the people’s source of strength,” Fr. Lubigan added.