Instead of the usual crowds of followers, the crowds will be reduced to a minimum as the shadow of the coronavirus pandemic approaches the celebration of the Black Nazarene holiday in Manila today, January 9th.
Tight restrictions to prevent the spread of Covid-19 forced church and city authorities to reduce the annual event by removing the central piece Traslacion, the procession that transfers the image of the Nazarene from Rizal Park to the Quiapo Church.
Instead of Traslacion, which is traditionally attended by millions of Nazarene followers and lasts until nightfall, there will be several Masses in several churches to disperse the crowds that usually converge in Plaza Miranda facing the Quiapo Church.
The rector of the church Quiapo mons. Hernando Coronel said on Friday that safety and health measures will be strictly enforced, such as the mandatory wearing of face masks and shields and the social distance of 1 meter.
The Colonel said children under the age of 15 and people over the age of 65 will also not be allowed inside the church.
“We hope that everything will be systematic, time and movement, waiting and queuing. We should also avoid group gathering, “he said.
The colonel said that followers who cannot keep their devotion in their homes can participate in the “localized” holidays of the Black Nazarene holiday.
Masses will take place in San Sebastian, Sta. Churches of the Catholic School of Cruz and Nazareth.
On the eve of Friday, Bishop Nolly Buco of Antipolo reminded his followers that with the acts of faith comes responsibility.
Buco said that people cannot claim their right to worship if they cannot respect their duties and obligations.
“We must cooperate as believers because we want to be an instrument for maintaining each other’s health,” Buco said in a homily during the last nine-day Mass at Quiapo Church on Friday.
“So this is also an invitation for us, as believers, that our life is not just random. [acts]”Part of that is sacrifice,” he said.
Amid restrictions on the pandemic, Buco said the holiday was another opportunity to ask God for blessings, strength and an end to the health crisis.