The annual Pahalik or the kissing of the image of the Black Nazarene began on Monday, two days earlier than its usual schedule.
In an interview on Tuesday, Msgr. Hernando Coronel, the rector of the Minor Basilica of the Black Nazarene, popularly known as Quiapo Church, said the reason for the early start of the prelude to the Traslacion is to allow more devotees to kiss the image.
Yes, the pahalik has started. We are attempting to lessen long queues and lines of long hours of waiting, Coronel said in an interview.
In the past years, the event was held on January 8, a day before the Traslacion, the procession of the black Jesus Christ from the Quirino Grandstand in Luneta to the Basilica along Quezon Boulevard, Manila.
Meanwhile, an official of the Quiapo Church urged the faithful, especially those who joined the replica procession on Wednesday afternoon, to spread the blessing to their communities by holding processions.
Yun nga 'yung panawagan namin na pagkatapos mabasbasan 'yung image nila, i-prosisyon nila 'yun sa lugar nila. 'Yun nga 'yung misyon, (to) spread 'yung blessing (We are calling on them to hold a procession of their images after these are blessed. The mission is to spread the blessing), Fr. Douglas Badong, parochial vicar, said.
The procession of the Black Nazarene replicas, which is held annually showcasing different sizes of the image, began at 2 p.m. Tuesday.
This year's Traslacion is a nine-day activity-filled celebration that began on January 1 and will culminate on January 9.
The procession commemorates the arrival of the image of the Black Nazarene at the Saint John the Baptist Church in Quiapo in 1767.
The famous church, known for the miraculous black image of the genuflecting Christ with the cross on his shoulder, had gained popular devotion throughout the archipelago.
The church received the blessing of Pope John Paul III to be called the Minor Basilica of the Black Nazarene in 1987.
One of the highlights of the event is the Holy Mass to be presided by Coronel, with Manila Archbishop Luis Antonio Cardinal Tagle as Homilist, to be held on the day of the feast on January 9.
The procession will commence after the morning prayer at 5 a.m.
Source: Philippines News Agency