MANILA — Thousands of Filipino Catholics on Friday flocked to Quiapo Church, one of the most prominent basilicas in Manila, to commemorate the death of Jesus Christ.
A steady stream of churchgoers lined up to enter the church, the home to the Black Nazarene, an image of Christ carrying his wooden cross on the way to his crucifixion.
At the entrance was a reminder to mask up. COVID-19 positivity rate nationwide recently rose to 7.1% according to the OCTA Research Group.
Outside the church, a few devotees showed their piety by flogging themselves with whips. It’s a religious act of penance that the Catholic Church has discouraged.
Inside was a packed church, filled to the brim with people from all walks of life. Men, women, children, Filipinos and foreigners alike, took time to observe one of the most significant days in the Catholic liturgical year.
But vendors like Lani said Quiapo this year is less crowded compared to the days prior to the pandemic. That meant lesser revenues for them but she said she’s getting by with just enough to put food on the table. With God’s grace, she said.
Other vendors offered the quintessential church wares — sampaguita flowers, towels bearing the image of the Black Nazarene and candles of all colors. These candles, one vendor says, cover whatever supplications one might ask for.
Beyond religious items, vendors also offered food — from rice delicacies to mangoes at 50 pesos a pile — and toys for children.
At 12 noon, the Siete Palabras or The Seven Last Words started. It relived the last statements Jesus Christ made before dying on the Cross.
Speakers, who work for the Quiapo Church, reflected on the significance of these words in their lives.
The program lasted for almost 3 hours, ending at 3pm, regarded as the very moment of Christ’s death.
Quiapo Police recorded about 5,000 people in the vicinity of Quiapo Church during the program.
No untoward incidents were reported, according to Quiapo police chief Colonel Roel Robles.