About 18,000 devotees of the Black Nazarene from the Visayas and Mindanao joined the procession amid intermittent rain spawned by tropical storm “Auring” Monday morning.

More than 800 police, army, and elements from the regional Philippine Coastguard joined forces to secure the crowd that walked about 10-kilometer distance around the city’s major thoroughfare during the procession.

P/Chief Supt. Agripino Javier, the regional police director, said that the elaborate security measures were undertaken to preempt possible disturbance during the procession.

Prior to the procession early morning Monday, the devotees held a mass and a novena in the sprawling Pelaez Sports Center at Velez St. Sunday night.

The procession ended when the carriage bearing the Black Nazarene reached the Church of Nazarene along Claro M. Recto Avenue amid an overflowing crowd that have waited to glimpse the miraculous image of the Black Nazarene.

A priest in Quiapo, Manila sent part of the original piece of the Black Nazarene about six years ago as a “gift,” Msgr. Rey Monsanto, the parish priest of the Church of Nazarene said.

Since then, the local parishioner had their own version of the Black Nazarene celebration every January 9, which was patronized by hundreds of devotees from the Visayas and Mindanao, Monsanto said.

He said that vendors, who sell memorabilia and tokens related to the Black Nazarene from Manila, also come to Cagayan De Oro City to avoid the congestion in Manila during the Feast of the Black Nazarene there. (PNA) NYP/CD

Photo Credit: facebook.com/markchristopher.yaranon