Devotions to the Jesus de Nazareno

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By Luci Lizares

Saturday, January 11, 2014

ANNUALLY the feast of the Black Nazarene, January 9, in the Philippines makes headline news. Devotees from far and wide brave heat or storm, compromise health and comfort, just to have a glimpse, a kiss, a wave, a towel or a handkerchief wiped from the venerated image!

The Black Nazarene of Quiapo, in Spanish Nuestro Jesus de Nazareno, in Pilipino Poong Itim na Nazareno is a life-size, dark wooden sculpture of Jesus Christ carrying the Cross representing His Passion and Suffering.

This was brought in from Mexico. It is believed to be originally fair complexioned but turned dark after the statue survived a fire on the galleon ship coming to the Philippines. Perhaps Christ wanted to be of the same skin tone as the people who will soon pay homage, honor and love Him.


Nazareno is derived from the citizenship of Jesus, which is Nazareth. The tunic of the image of Jesus carrying the Cross is usually in hues of maroon from deep burgundy to dark red. Adorning the Nazareno’s head is the crown of thorns and also the traditional three rays called Tres Potencias or three powers of the Holy Trinity.

Locally, the Jesus de Nazareno carroza, which has been a mainstay of the Talisay processions for the past four generations, has been with the Diaz-Lacson family of Talisay and Bacolod. The devotion and the parading of the carroza during Holy Week started with Don Julio Diaz, twice Gobernadorcillo of Talisay and Vocal de Commite of the Philippine Revolution of 1898. The Nazareno, then according to Larry Lacson, a descendant of Julio Diaz, was carried by devotees just like all the other carrozas at the time. When another lolo, Anselmo, took on the responsibility of caring for the Nazareno, he added the soldiers and Simon to the carroza. With all the forefathers gone, Luisa Diaz Lacson, Larry’s mother, took on the role of caretaker. With Tita Luising now also gone, Larry and his siblings still, with all love and devotion, see to it that Jesus of Nazareno gets the best care.

Larry says that when Tia Isid de la Rama was alive, she would borrow the image and this would be displayed in the Cathedral of Bacolod where a nine-day novena takes place. Then on January 9, the carroza is paraded in a solemn procession around the streets of Bacolod. This tradition ended with her demise. Considering the humongous following of the Nazareno, won’t it be a most perfect idea to bring back this tradition?
Just recently when Mae Villanueva and I were doing our pilgrimage in Seville, Spain, we discovered that in parallel devotion, the Sevillanos revered the Birgen de Macarena, their Patron Saint, and the Jesus de Nazareno.

The more popular duo we find most often here in our shores is the Twin Hearts, images are the Sacred Heart of Jesus with the Immaculate Heart of Mary. In Seville, it is the Jesus de Nazareno and the Virgen Macarena (to us, the Dolorosa).

However, they call Him the Jesus de Silencio. This is the image of Christ all on His own carrying His Cross.

We visited many churches and they had beautiful images of the Jesus de Silencio as the main image of their altars. As we ascended the back portion of an altar in one of the churches, while the image is encased in glass, there is a portion of Christ’s foot that is open where devotees can touch and make their petitions. It was an endearing moment watching a lola holding her apo and teaching her to pray to the Nazareno.

Seville, Spain is most popular for its Semana Santa (Holy Week) celebration. Just like the recent feast of the Jesus de Nazareno in Manila, devotees and tourists from all over Spain and the globe come to witness the procession but minus the pandemonium and mayhem.

Why does the Nazareno effect much affection here and other Catholic countries? Foremost would be the miracles and answered prayers as attested by devotees. Jesus the Nazareno, the Black Nazarene or the Jesus de Silencio is the picture of penitential rigor and restraint. We cannot quantify the number of people who experience daily suffering whether as victims of disasters, poverty, relationships, illness, addiction, hopelessness, helplessness, humiliation, persecution, desperation and desolation. We all have our personal struggles and we identify ourselves with Jesus and His Passion.

One of the most beautiful pictures I saw in the Yolanda aftermath was the picture of some victims carrying the picture of the Nazareno with all the devastation in the background. It was a picture that said a thousand words. In our plight and flight to resurrect from the miseries of life, we embrace our crosses in rigor and restraint. Christ gave us the example that this too shall pass and if we hang in there with all faith and trust, His merciful love will surely see us through.
The feast of Jesus the Nazarene celebrated in the start of the year is like a guiding star to reinstate that faith and trust that no matter what happens in the coming year, God’s love and kindness will overcome all darkness!*

Published in the Sun.Star Bacolod newspaper on January 11, 2014.


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