Black Nazarene visits I.Norte

LAOAG CITY, March 31 (PIA) – Thousands of Catholic devotees warmly welcomed to Ilocos Norte the five-day maiden visit of the revered Nuestro Padre Jesus Nazareno of Quiapo or Black Nazarene on March 25-29 as part of the pre-Lenten activities in the province.

At 5 a.m. of March 25, priests, lay ministers and devotees met the Black Nazarene hauled in a truck when it arrived in Badoc, the border town Ilocos Norte. Along the national highways, early bed-risers/devotees lined up with lighted candles and recited prayers.

When it reached Brgy. Nangalisan before the southern approach of Gilbert Bridge here, a big crowd of devotees escorted it towards the St. William Cathedral in downtown Laoag. Here, it stayed for hours as throng of brethren flock to it for a kiss, hug and hanky wipes in reverence.

In the afternoon, the Black Nazarene was brought to St. Andrew parish church in nearby Bacarra town for an overnight vigil and morning mass.

In both Laoag cathedral and Bacarra church, Catholic faithful including those from neighboring provinces joined the traditional ‘Pahalik sa Poon Nazareno’.

On Friday afternoon of March 27, after a 3 p.m. mass, the grand Black Nazarene procession was conducted from St. William Cathedral to the major thoroughfares in Laoag. It was joined by thousands of devotees who prayed and walked with lighted candles till past 7 p.m. A sea of humanity dominated the roadsides as people came out from commercial establishments and private homes as they swung handkerchiefs and face towels for a sacred touch/wipe of the religious icon.

“Considered by many Filipino Catholics as miraculous, with the ability to cure illness and bring luck, the procession of the life-sized image of Jesus Christ carrying the cross is in line with the pre-Lenten activities of the Diocese of Laoag headed by Bishop Renato Mayugba.

Ilocos Norte Gov. Imee Marcos who joined the procession together with lead Bishop Mayugba, Laoag Mayor Chevylle Farinas, Vice Mayor Michael Farinas and other government officials, said “despite the difficulties that surround us, we still find time to be resilient…to remain Christian and prayerful.”

Two replica images of the Nazarene were installed in front of the Laoag City Hall and the provincial capitol building for selfie photos by cellphone buffs.

At 5:30 a.m. of March 29, Palm Sunday, Bishop Mayugba blessed the palm fronds carried by devotees who gathered en masse in front of the Provincial Capitol. It was followed by a Holy Mass at the nearby St. William Cathedral and the last phase of the ‘Pahalik sa Poon Nazareno.’

At 10 p.m. of same day, the Catholic faithful bade goodbye to the Black Nazarene in send-off rites as it departed for a return journey to the Quiapo Church in Manila. (Cherry Joy Discaya Garma/PIA-1, Ilocos Norte)