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Thousands of devotees in Philippines join Christ statue procession

MANILA: Hundreds of thousands of devotees in the Philippines, many of them barefooted, joined a chaotic procession yesterday that featured a black statue of Jesus Christ, one of the biggest annual festivals in the predominantly Roman Catholic nation.

The faithful gathered in downtown Manila to follow a carriage bearing the statue called the Black Nazarene, believed to have healing powers, in a parade that began at dawn and may last until evening or even longer. Some of them jostled and climbed onto the carriage as it was pushed and pulled by dozens of men holding ropes, while the crowd waved towels and handkerchiefs in a sign of praise to the kneeling life-sized image that carried a cross on one shoulder.

Processions and other religious rites were also held elsewhere in the country of 105 million people to celebrate the feast. Citing police estimates, media said this year’s festivities may draw 17 million devotees nationwide, some seeking healing for illnesses and forgiveness for sins and others offering thanks for blessings.

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