Huge crowd of Filipino Catholics gathers amid terror fears
A mammoth crowd of mostly barefoot Filipino Catholics has joined a raucous procession of a centuries-old black statue of Jesus Christ under extra-tight security in Manila due to terrorism fears and recent bomb attacks in the southern Philippines.
Police say they have not monitored any specific threat but that they deployed more than 7,000 personnel, including bomb squads backed by a surveillance helicopter, to secure the annual procession of the wooden Black Nazarene on Wednesday along Manila’s streets. Police expect up to 5 million people may join the dawn-to-midnight procession.
Mobs of devotees in maroon shirts share in the belief that the Nazarene’s powers cure ailments and foster good health and fortune. The spectacle reflects the unique brand of Catholicism, which includes folk superstitions, in Asia’s largest Catholic nation.