There will be no traslacion of the Black Nazarene in January next year amid the coronavirus disease-2019 (COVID-19) pandemic, the Manila city government confirmed Friday morning.

traslacion - No Traslacion 2021 procession amid COVID-19 pandemic
Devotees carry the image of the Black Nazarene to a carriage while others wave white hankies during the annual religious procession in Manila on January 9, 2015.
(TED ALJIBE/AFP/Getty Images)

The decision was made in a meeting between Manila Mayor Francisco “Isko Moreno” Domagoso and Quiapo Church officials on Thursday afternoon.

Instead of a procession, Quiapo Church rector Monsignor Hernando Coronel said more masses will be held for the devotees.

They are also mulling to give a church blessing to all available replicas of the Black Nazarene for a simultaneous nationwide motorcade and the schedule of the Black Nazarene at Quiapo Church for visits to different city-parishes in Metro Manila.

“Nagpapasalamat kami sa pagkakataon na narinig ang aming presentasyon para sa Traslacion 2021, at ang mangyayari, napagkasunduan ay hindi matutuloy ‘yung Luneta to Quiapo na may andas na prusisyon. Hindi po matutuloy iyon (We are grateful for that we were given a chance to present for Traslacion 2021, and what will happen is, we have agreed on not pushing through with the procession with an andas from Luneta to Quiapo. That will be cancelled),” Coronel said in a statement.

“Ang mangyayari po sa January 9 ay patuloy na mga misa, at yung ating mga bikaryo ay ilalagay po natin sa canopy po sa labas ng simbahan (What will happen on January 9 is that we will continue with the masses, and our vicats will be placed at the canopies outside the church),” he added.

Coronel admitted he was saddened by the cancellation of the annual procession, but stressed that the church and the public must adhere to the government-issued health protocols, such as physical distancing and the wearing of face masks and shields.

Domagoso appealed for understanding from Black Nazarene devotees and underscored the danger of holding processions, or any sort of mass gathering, amid the pandemic.

“Nakikisuyo po ako, iwasan po muna natin ang mga parada at prusisyon ngayong may pandemya dulot ng sakit na COVID-19. Maaari pong mapahamak ang ating mga deboto, mailagay sila sa alanganin (I am asking you, let us avoid parades and processions now that there is a pandemic brought about by the disease COVID-19. Our devotees might be harmed or put in danger),” he said.

“There are things that we cannot control pero pwede maiwasan. Kung libo-libo ang pupunta sa prusisyon, isa lang sa kanila ang maimpeksyon, tapos magkakadikit-dikit pa sila, pinagpapawisan, nagkakalat na droplets ng laway, delikado po iyan (but we can prevent it. If thousands will join the procession and one of them is infected, then they stick to each other, the spread of sweat, saliva, and other droplets is dangerous),” he added.

The Manila mayor had earlier called on church officials to make plans for the upcoming religious events and asked them to celebrate them in a “conservative” manner in light of the pandemic.

Domagoso also said that he will not allow the Black Nazarene procession to be held should there be no improvement in the country’s situation in relation to the COVID-19 pandemic by January.

On January 9 every year, thousands of devotees join the parade of the image of the Black Nazarene as it snakes its way from the Quirino Grandstand to Quiapo Church during the traslacion.

The procession in January, 2020, the first under the Domagoso administration, lasted for 16 hours, making it the fastest one in history.

It was also the most orderly, said Father Douglas Badong, parochial vicar of Quiapo Church.

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