Jesus of the Black Nazarene – The Inside Story

Jesus of the Black Nazarene Chapel of the Black Nazarene Iriga City, Philippines

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 of the Black Nazarene
Iriga City Philippines


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

Quiapo Church is currently the home of the 300-year-old life-size statue of the Black Nazareno and is believed to have been brought to Manila by a Spanish priest in 1606 from Acapulco, Mexico, on board in a galleon. The ship somehow caught on fire during the voyage to our country, and 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; and every January 9, a sea of devotees mob the church and streets to observe its annual festivity.

People can find similar life-size images everywhere in our countries, such as in Capalonga, Camarines Norte, and the Chapel of the Black Nazarene in Iriga City, Camarines Sur. These same images are coming out for the procession during its feast day on January 9 and during the Holy Week celebrations, particularly on Holy Wednesday.

“Tres Potencias”

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

The barefooted image of Jesus the Black Nazarene is in a genuflecting position that symbolizes His struggle to get up from His agony and the weight of the cross with the pain He endured during His Passion. The statue bears a large, black cross of wood on His right shoulder.

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 are stooping down;

All of His images are with His shoulders straight and His back upon upright position 

showing to everyone that He is strong and never surrendered despite all struggles, and we who look at Him shall struggle and rise with our cross and never give up just like Him.

This powerful yet sympathetic appearance of the image inspires countless people to develop a strong devotion to Jesus Nazareno. They easily identify their day to day experiences with Him. We inherited this devotion from Spanish colonizers who were in our country for more than 300 years. In Spain, the pageant of life-size images depicting the passion and death of the Lord dates back to the 16th century.

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

During the Procession, the people riding the carriage with the Black Nazarene 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 those 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. At the same time, some do it as an act of humility.

The Pahalik is also an event usually during the day before or the morning of the procession, where the devotees wait in line (long queues are 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 afterward 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 miracles to themselves, their families, and loved ones.



Nuestro Padre Jesús Nazareno

The hymn Nuestro Padre Jesús Nazareno was composed by Lucio San Pedro to honor the statue. The Minor Basilica uses it 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 honor Thee!

Our Father Jesus Nazarene,

We glorify Thee! ||



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