Roman Catholics in Manila, Philippines have an annual celebration called the Feast of the Black Nazarene. During this festival, an idol is marched through the streets in a 20-hour procession of 1.4 million people. Roman Catholics believe that if they touch the idol, they will be healed and have good fortune.
Christian News wrote, “The carving, known as the Black Nazarene for the figure’s dark complexion, is believed to have been brought from Mexico to Manila in the 1600’s. It was carried aboard a ship, and although the vessel caught fire, it was not destroyed.”
A 72-year-old woman, Nilda Saavedra said, “When I was a young woman, I walked on my knees and begged the Black Nazarene to give me a good husband. I also prayed that all my three children could finish college. All my prayers were heard.”
This celebration has occurred over the past 200 years in the Philippines, which is 80% Roman Catholic. Millions of people walk barefoot out of reverence toward the statue, but chaos and danger typically surrounds this event each year. Hundreds shove, hit, and even stab people to get close to the wood carving of Jesus. Others will hand white scarves to those closer hoping they will swipe the statue with it and the scarf will carry healing power.
Two people died of health complications and the Philippine Red Cross “treated over 1,200 people for injuries, which included cuts, abrasions and bruises, as well as those who sought to have their blood pressure checked. A few also complained of shortness of breath or struggled with ailments that required hospitalization.”