ASIDE from the grand procession of the image of the Black Nazarene, Quiapo church officials have also cancelled the annual procession for replica images due to the continued threat of the new coronavirus in the country.
In an interview, Quiapo Church parochial vicar Fr. Danichi Hui said: “There will be no traditional replica procession.”
In its place, Hui said they have decided to just have the replicas blessed immediately.
“As they come here in Quiapo, if they have an image with them, we will bless it right away,” he said.
In the past, Quiapo Church officials hold a separate procession for replica images of the Black Nazarene ahead of the January 9 feast day. The event provides the owners of replica images the opportunity to have them blessed by the priest and displayed for public veneration ahead of the actual Traslacion.
For 2021, however, Quiapo Church and the city government of Manila have decided to cancel the grand procession to avoid the mass gathering of devotees.
In its place is the holding of the “pagdalaw,” wherein different parts of the country are set to be visited by the Black Nazarene.
To commemorate the feast of the Black Nazarene on January 9, the Quiapo Church had started bringing the image of the Black Nazarene to several provinces and churches where novenas and fiesta masses were held in advance.
Presidential spokesman Harry Roque reminded church officials and the public that the 30 percent venue capacity limit for religious services remains amid calls to raise the venue limit for the Feast of the Black Nazarene.
“Religious services are limited up to 30 percent capacity, it has not changed. Until it is amended, let us follow the 30 percent capacity,” Roque said.
Church leaders had called for the increase of the venue capacity rate for religious services to 50 percent to accommodate more devotees.
The call was made despite measures adopted by the management of Quiapo Church, such as the conduct of online masses and the putting up of big television screens outside the church to enable devotees to participate in the masses and novenas from outside.
Manila Mayor Isko Moreno said four areas will be made available to accommodate devotees who will not be allowed entry to the Quiapo Church due to the limited church capacity.
“We will make Villalobos, Carriedo, Hidalgo and Plaza Miranda available to accommodate the excess number of devotees allowed inside Quiapo Church,” Moreno told ANC’s HeadStart.
Moreno said the city government had already mapped out the plans for the Feast of the Black Nazarene in coordination with the leadership of the Quiapo Church to ensure the safety of devotees.
He added that the city government has already provided free face masks and face shields to the church management for distribution to devotees who will be allowed to enter the church.
“We have no problem with the church management as they are also very strict in enforcing health protocols,” Moreno said, noting that the problem are the devotees outside of the church but he added that he had already tasked the Manila Police Department and the Manila Traffic and Parking Bureau to ensure the strict implementation of health protocols such as the wearing of face masks and physical distancing.
At the same time, Moreno appealed to devotees that it would also be better if they commemorate the Feast of the Black Nazarene by just praying inside their respective residences while the pandemic is still on instead of coming all the way to the Quiapo Church. – With Jocelyn Montemayor and Ashzel Hachero