The dramatic meeting between the Our Lady of Mount Carmel and the Black Nazarene of Quiapo Church was the highpoint of the foot procession held in honor of the quadricentennial anniversary of her arrival to Philippine soil.
The celebration kicked off with a fluvial procession at dawn of May 4, followed by a holy mass at the Quirino Grandstand officiated by CBCP President and Davao Archbishop Romulo Valles.
Interesting enough, it was a First Friday just as May 4, 1618 — when the image was first brought by Augustinian Recollect missionaries to the country — was also a First Friday.
After the mass, the Traslacion to San Sebastian Basilica via the Quiapo Church commenced. It was the first Traslacion held in honor of Our Lady of Mt. Carmel in all its 400 years of residence in the country.
Surrounding the carroza of the Our Lady were the Hijos del Nazareno (Sons of the Nazarene), a parish-backed group of devotees who considered themselves an “army of protectors” of the revered statue.
The four-kilometer Traslacion attracted thousands of devotees, prompting authorities to close major thoroughfares for a few hours to give way to the procession.
From Intramuros, the Traslacion snaked through the city streets, passing by the Quiapo Church, where the Black Nazarene, carried this time by the Hijas del Nazareno, was brought out.
Every Feast of the Black Nazarene on January 9, the image of Our Lady of Mount Carmel would be brought out of San Sebastian Church to “meet” the cross-carrying, Calvary-bound Black Nazarene image, in a tradition called “Dungaw.”
Tradition was reversed this time as the Mother went on the Traslacion and the Son came out to meet her.
Upon arriving at the Quiapo Church grounds, the Our Lady was greeted by religious music from a drum and bugle corps. On the balcony of the church were little girls clad in angelic costume, showering down flowers and holding the all capital, spelled-out AVE MARIA letters of the Flores de Mayo.
Outside the Church, devotees greeted the yellow-clad Our Lady by waving in the air yellow towels.
As Lucio San Pedro’s “Nuestro Padre Jesus Nazareno” hymn was sung, the image of the Black Nazarene appeared and stood just a few meters away from the Our Lady. The devotees cheered and applauded, until the priest from the Quiapo Church invited them all to silence.
It was a dramatic moment between Mother and Son, between the Our Lady of Mount Carmel and the Black Nazarene — two iconic and deeply revered statues which have inspired generation upon generation of Filipino piety and devotion.
It was also a proud moment for the Order of Augustinian Recollects — the same missionary Order that brought to the country the iconic images of the Our Lady of Mount Carmel — Queen of Quiapo — and the Black Nazarene, the undisputed King of Quiapo.
The priest then led the faithful in a lengthy and solemn prayer, consisting of the singing of the Lourdes hymn “Ave, ave, ave Maria”, litany of the Blessed Virgin Mary and the Salve Regina.
After another round of applause and cheering, the Traslacion continued on its way until it reached the nearby destination of San Sebastian Basilica.
Upon arrival at her shrine, bells tolled and the devotees who had been waiting erupted in applause. With the Our Lady of Mount Carmel having arrived home at San Sebastian Basilica, veneration to her sacred image was made open to the public.
Police authorities said around 500 policemen were deployed to secure the safety of the faithful and ambulances and medical teams were also on standby.
They added that despite the number of devotees who showed up, the event was “generally peaceful”.