Jesus of the Black Nazarene – The Inside Story

Jesus of the Black Nazarene – The Inside Story

By. Meline Ngo

The Black Nazarene, fondly called the “Nazareno,” is a popular devotion in the Philippines. One of the most known cults is that of one in Quiapo Church in Manila.

Jesus Nazareno is also known as “Nuestro Padre Jesús Nazareno” or as “Señor Nazareno.”

The image of the Black Nazarene of Quiapo Church, Manila

Quiapo Church is home of the 300-year-old, life-size statue of the Black Nazareno believe to have been brought to Manila by a Spanish priest in 1606 from Acapulco, Mexico on board a galleon. The ship somehow caught on fire during the voyage but the image was not destroyed but only turned its color to charcoal black.  And This is why the image of Jesus of Nazarene became known to be the Jesus of the Black Nazarene.

Since 1787, it has been under the care of the Quiapo Parish Church also now known also The Basilica Minor of the Black Nazarene; and every January 9, a sea of devotees mobs the church and streets to observe its annual festivity.

The Black Nazarene in Capalonga, Camarines Norte


Similar life-size images are also found everywhere in the country, such as the one in Capalonga, Camarines Norte, and the one  in the Chapel of the Black Nazarene in Iriga City, Camarines Sur. These similar images are paraded during its feast day on January 9 and during the Holy week celebrations.

The Black Nazarene of Iriga City, Camarines Sur

The statue of Christ is dark-skinned, clad in robe of maroon, along with a golden  crown of thorns. Attached to the crown of the statue’s head are the traditional “Tres Potencias” (“three powers”) halo, symbolizing the three powers of the Holy Trinity. These three rayos (“rays”) are used to exclusively identify Christ in traditional Hispanic iconography, and are an angular variant of the common cruciform halo.


But it is eminent that despite His genuflecting position and with the big cross on His shoulder, no single image of the Black the Nazarene can be seen stooping down; All of His images are shown with His shoulders straight and His back up on upright position showing to everyone that despite all struggles; He is strong and never surrendered; and we who look at Him shall struggle and rise up with our cross and never give up just like Him.

This powerful yet sympathizing appearance of the image inspires a countless number of people to develop a strong devotion to Nazareno. They easily identify their day to day experiences with Him. This is a devotion we inherited from our Spanish colonizers. In Spain, the pageant of life-size images depicting the passion and death of the Lord dates back since the 16th century.

Indeed, the Philippines inherited so much of its values from Spain and Mexico. The three were like one world because of the galleon trade, similar to the modern concept of the global village. The Black Nazarene devotion is as popular as it is in Spain and Mexico. This and many other value such as compadres, fiestas, and other popular devotions make Philippines uniquely different from the rest of Asian countries.

During one of the processions of Jesus of the Black Nazarene on His Feast Day in Quiapo, Manila


During the Procession, those riding the carriage with the image are called “hijos de nazarenos.” They act as navigators to the float and sentinels guarding the image. The men who support and carry the carriage are the “pingga,” and this who pull on the rope to make it move forward are the “salang.

The devotees wear the color maroon and walk barefoot as an act of penance for Jesus on his way to Mount Calvary. While some do it as an act of humility.

During a Pahalik

There is also the Pahalik, usually done the day before or the morning of the procession, where the devotees wait in line, (long queues is more like it) for them to touch or kiss the foot of the image of the Black Nazarene.

Wiping the Black Nazarene image with towels or handkerchiefs and afterwards rubbing the same cloth on their faces and bodies is part of the religiosity. The wiping of the image meant believing that it can bring good health, prosperity, and the miracles to themselves, their families and love ones.






“He was a King but never seated on a worldly throne. He was a mighty warrior but never held a sword. He was expected to bring salvation to mankind and He delivered even death on the cross. His ultimate weapon is the word of truth and it was enough to change the world. Most importantly, He died so we could live.”

Let us know Him more and give Him a chance to touch our lives.


Link to : The Novena of Jesus of the Black Nazarene



The hymn Nuestro Padre Jesús Nazareno was composed by Lucio San Pedro to honor the statue. It is used by the Minor Basilica as the official anthem of the devotion and its associated rites.

Tagalog lyrics

Nuestro Padre Jesús Nazareno,
Sinasambá Ka namin,
Pinipintuhò Ka namin
Aral Mo ang aming buhay
at Kaligtasan.
Nuestro Padre Jesús Nazareno,
Iligtás Mo kami sa Kasalanan!
Ang Krus Mong kinamatayán ay
Sagisag ng aming Kaligtasan.

|| Nuestro Padre Jesús Nazareno,
Dinarangál Ka namin!
Nuestro Padre Jesús Nazareno,
Nilul’walhatì Ka namin! ||

Literal English translation

Our Father, Jesus the Nazarene
We worship Thee
We admire Thee
Thy teachings are our life
and Salvation.
Our Father Jesus Nazarene,
Save us from sin!
The Cross Thou hadst died upon is
Emblem of our Salvation.

|| Our Father, Jesus the Nazarene,
We honour Thee!
Our Father Jesus Nazarene,
We glorify Thee! ||

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