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.

Filipino Roman Catholic devotees jostle to kiss and rub with towels the image of the Black Nazarene in a raucous procession to celebrate its feast day Wednesday, Jan. (AP Photo/Bullit Marquez)
Filipino Roman Catholic devotees jostle to kiss and rub with towels the image of the Black Nazarene in a raucous procession to celebrate its feast day Wednesday, Jan. (AP Photo/Bullit Marquez)
Filipino Roman Catholic devotees jostle to kiss and rub with towels the image of the Black Nazarene in a raucous procession to celebrate its feast day Wednesday, Jan. (AP Photo/Bullit Marquez)
Filipino Roman Catholic devotees jostle to kiss and rub with towels the image of the Black Nazarene in a raucous procession to celebrate its feast day Wednesday, Jan. (AP Photo/Bullit Marquez)
Filipino Roman Catholic devotees jostle to kiss and rub with towels the image of the Black Nazarene in a raucous procession to celebrate its feast day Wednesday, Jan. (AP Photo/Bullit Marquez)
Filipino Roman Catholic devotees jostle to kiss and rub with towels the image of the Black Nazarene in a raucous procession to celebrate its feast day Wednesday, Jan. (AP Photo/Bullit Marquez)
Filipino Roman Catholic devotees prepare to mount on the carriage the image of the Black Nazarene for a long and raucous procession to celebrate its feast day Wednesday, Jan. (AP Photo/Bullit Marquez)
Filipino Roman Catholic devotees prepare to mount on the carriage the image of the Black Nazarene for a long and raucous procession to celebrate its feast day Wednesday, Jan. (AP Photo/Bullit Marquez)
Filipino Roman Catholic devotees prepare to mount on the carriage the image of the Black Nazarene for a long and raucous procession to celebrate its feast day Wednesday, Jan. (AP Photo/Bullit Marquez)
Filipino Roman Catholic devotees prepare to mount on the carriage the image of the Black Nazarene for a long and raucous procession to celebrate its feast day Wednesday, Jan. (AP Photo/Bullit Marquez)
Filipino Roman Catholic devotees break the barrier to get closer to the image of the Black Nazarene in a raucous procession to celebrate its feast day Wednesday, Jan. (AP Photo/Bullit Marquez)
Filipino Roman Catholic devotees break the barrier to get closer to the image of the Black Nazarene in a raucous procession to celebrate its feast day Wednesday, Jan. (AP Photo/Bullit Marquez)
Filipino Roman Catholic devotees prepare to mount on the carriage the image of the Black Nazarene for a long and raucous procession to celebrate its feast day Wednesday, Jan. (AP Photo/Bullit Marquez)
Filipino Roman Catholic devotees prepare to mount on the carriage the image of the Black Nazarene for a long and raucous procession to celebrate its feast day Wednesday, Jan. (AP Photo/Bullit Marquez)

Source: The Associated Press

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