Quiapo Church is one of Manila's most famous churches. It is also known as the "Church of the Black Nazarene" and sometimes referred to as the "Minor Basilica of the Black Nazarene." Located in Quiapo, Manila, the church houses a large black wooden statue of Christ bearing the cross (the "Black Nazarene"). This crucifix was carved in Mexico and was brought to the Philippines from Mexico by Spanish galleon in 1767.
According to historical records, Quiapo church was founded in 1586 by Franciscan Missionaries headed by Pedro Bautista. It was originally constructed of bamboo and nipa. Stone reconstructions of the church followed in 1899, but this Mexican Baroque structure burned down in 1928. The present cream-colored edifice was the result of reconstruction that took three decades to complete.
In 1586, the Quiapo district was first established by then governor general Santiago de Vera and the Fransciscans concurrently founded the church. It was led by Fr. Pedro Bautista. The church also suffered two natural calamities: a fire in 1639 and an earthquake in 1863. Fransciscans built the first church, but Seculars handled the repairs and rebuilding of succeeding structures.
Basilio Sancho de Santas Justa y Rufina, then archibishop of Manila ordered the translocation of the image of the Black Nazerene in Intramuros. It was formerly housed by San Nicolas de Tolentino, the Augustinian Recollect's main church. This event is commemorated evert 9 January.
In 1899, the third church was inagurated. In 1928, another fire damaged the building and was rebuilt by architect Juan Nakpil. An expansion was done in the 1980s.
Devotion to the Black Nazarene
On Fridays thousands of Catholic devotees may be seen inside the church edging forward on their knees towards the crucifix to light a candle in supplication to the Black Nazarene. Around the church is a fascinating gathering of vendors selling candles and curiosities like amulets and folk cures for obscure ailments.
Every January 9, devotees flock to Quiapo in hopes of touching the life sized statue of the Black Nazarene who is believed to have inexplicable and miraculous powers. Some people have claimed that the reason the Black Nazarene is so popular with the Filipinos is because it was the first religious image to which Filipinos could relate, owing to its dark skin tone. Regardless of the reason for its popularity, the Black Nazarene continues to be a beacon of hope for people who want to receive absolution for their sins.
The facade of the church is characterized by balance and symmetry. The central facade is marked by a “porte-cochere”. This contains life-sized saints. The first storey is divided into vertical panels. The main portal can be found at the center of the panels. The second storey has flat expanded walls and regular alternation of high-relief rounded pilasters. A tall treefoil-arched doorway is at the center with the saints' niche flanking it. On top of the facade is an oval painting of the Black Nazarene. On each side of the central facade are the bell towers that are four storeys high.
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- Pedro G. Galende, OSA Philippine Church Facades Manila Filipiniana.net, 2007. (Accessed on 1 June 2010)