The Black Nazarene
By Richard Deverall
In the center of Manila, queen city of the
Philippines, is a small and cozy church, the Quiapo Church
(pronounced Key-yah-po). Surrounded in downtown manila by eating
places, business establishments and sari-sari (variety)
stores. Quiapo Church is busy day and night. No matter when you
visit that delightful church, Orientals and Occidentals mingle
when they drop in for a visit to the blessed sacrament before
catching their bus out tot he suburbs.
My first visit found me there late in the
afternoon. The blazing sun had already sunk into Manila Bay and
across the waters, Cavite was but a blur on the horizon. inside
Quiapo, I could not quite see everything but in time I noticed a
wooden statue representing Our Lord. Christ was black, very
black! later I was told that Our lord in manila is known as the
Black Nazarene. he is represented there not as a white man, but
as a colored man.
The Black Nazarene dominates the Church.
Those of us who prayed before the statue were black, brown,
yellow and white. Some of us were Orientals. Some Occidentals.
many were mixed up. As the days went on, i continued to visit
Quiapo in Manila. And with the days grew the consciousness that
many of us white folks in the West view our Christian religion
as if it were a "white' religion. certainly, little white
boys and girls in white supremacy countries pray to a
"white' god and see on the altar nothing but
As the day passed in Quiapo, I realized how
shocking it is for people to think in this manner, for over half
the human race is not white. Indeed, on a global basis, white
people are in the minority. particularly is this true in Asia
where people are heavily sunburned, brown, yellow and in some
places very black. Do you wonder that in many Asian countries
the nationalist leaders talk about "white"
Christianity and try to delude their followers into believing
that no colored man can pray to a "white" God?
As I sat there in Quiapo many times I would
meditate on the life of Our Lord: how he labored as a carpenter;
how He rode a donkey into Jerusalem; how He drove the
monechangers from the temple; how he went out in a vessel with
the fishermen. Never before did I realize that the setting of
the new testament is an Asian setting. it was not taught to me
that way when I was in school. never before did I realize that
Our Lord on earth was born of Asian Jews, was probably somewhat
colored and had black eyes.
When you roam the length and breadth of
colored Asia the most familiar foliage is that of the palm tree,
you see mustard trees, you see men and cargo on donkeys; you
meet the village carpenter and the local potter; and you see the
moneychangers sitting outside the temples. And you learn how
greedy and rapacious they can be. Whether you are in the
Philippines, in Thailand, in Ceylon, or in India, the New
Testament in many ways is given new meaning when you read it in
a hot climate sitting under a palm tree just behind the village
well. . . .
The Black Nazarene in Manila calls to the
white men of the West to erase their color pride and to realize
that God has no color! he is the Supreme being. he is god. All
human beings are subject to god regardless of their race or
their color or national origin. All of us are of equal dignity
before God. like wise Our lord His Son is not really a
"white" Christ nor a "black" Christ, but
From the beautiful city of Manila, the Black
Nazarene calls to all of us. he wants us to realize the truth
which so many of us avoid or deny: men, colored and white, are
brothers of the same Christ; God is the Father of but one human
race. just as God our Father made flowers of diverse colors;
just as God made climates to make leaves green, then yellow,
then brown, so God in His Infinite Goodness used imagination in
fashioning the human race.
Thus God made people a bit different: some
with flat noses, some with long slender noses; some with blue
eyes, some with jet-black eyes; some with yellow hair, some with
brown hair, some with curly black hair. Imagine if you will the
dreadful monotony of the world if everyone were white, blue-eyed
and had nothing but flaxen hair. it would be the same as being
in snowbound Greenland on a sunny day. Happily, Our Creator
provided us with a world which is a riot of color and variated
in form . . . .
One has to travel but a short time to realize
how wonderfully God made the world and the people in it. thus
when I prayed in Quiapo and looked around at the faces, the
eyes, the noses and the beautiful souls of everyone in the
church, i was struck once more with the colorful art God has
used in making His human race!
Source: Richard L.G. Deverall,
well-known journalist, lecturer and writer, has recently
returned after seven years in Asia and the pacific area. For two
years he represented the AFL in Asia. Interracial Review,