The Philippines' biggest annual religious procession, the traslacion, should be viewed simply as an effect of Filipino Catholics’ devotion to the Black Nazarene, a priest said Monday.
Fr. Francis Lucas, president of the Catholic Media Network Corp., said the procession, which is usually marred by injuries and deaths, is a practice of “popular religious piety,” which goes beyond the framework of Catholic theology.
“Traslacion is just an effect of the devotion,” Lucas said on ANC’s “Talkback.”
He explained that people join the traslacion for three reasons:
miracles and healings, identification with the suffering of Christ, and for devotees to see the spirituality of their faith.
Meanwhile, according to University of the Philippines-Diliman sociologist Dr. Manuel Victor Sapitual, the traslacion emanates from the people itself and is a way for people to make sense of their own religious traditions.
He said such a practice is voluntary, which people do to address their needs, desires and hopes.
Sapitual added that devotees of the Black Nazarene brand themselves as such because of their faith in the image.
“Once you adopt that role, there are certain conditions that go with it. There are certain promises that you make, certain duties but part of it is... there are certain blessings that you receive,” Sapitual said.
“It’s a religious world view. You would be surprised at how deep and complex a devotee’s world view is,” he added, noting the strength of devotees’ faith, which can be seen in how they allow the Black Nazarene's image to influence their life choices.
“They allow a figure that they cannot talk to to influence their decisions in life,” he said.
Known as a miraculous figure, the Black Nazarene has been credited for several miracles, with devotees passing on their belief to generations and generations of Filipino Catholics.