Crowds of an estimated 10 million people took part in a gigantic procession in Manila, Philippines, to honour 17th century black statue of Jesus Christ. The icon, referred to as The Black Nazarene, is thought to have healing powers and is able to grant miracles and can cure ailments and provide good health and fortune.

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Devotees occupy Jones bridge as they take part in the annual procession of the Black Nazarene in ManilaRomeo Ranoco/Reuters

The wooden statue of Christ, crowned with thorns, is believed to have been brought from Mexico to Manila on a galleon in 1606 by Spanish missionaries. The ship that carried it caught fire, but the charred statue survived and was named the Black Nazarene. Some believe the statue's survival from fires, earthquakes and even intense bombings during World War II is a testament to its mystical powers.

The statue paraded in the streets is no longer the original, as parts of the statue are being preserved.

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Devotees parade the black statue of Jesus Christ during the annual Black Nazarene Catholic religious feast in ManilaErik De Castro/Reuters
Black Nazarene
Devotees occupy Jones bridge as they take part in the annual procession of the Black Nazarene in ManilaRomeo Ranoco/Reuters

Dressed in red and yellow shirts, the barefoot devotees shouted "Long live Nazarene icon" as they waved white towels in the air, during morning prayers at Rizal Park in the Filipino capital. After prayers, a five-kilometre procession followed. Cramped conditions did not stop some from scrambling to get close to the revered statue and wipe it with their towels. Many climbed over peoples heads and shoulders to catch a glimpse of the revered statue, hoping to carry away some of its healing powers.

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The carriage carrying the Black Nazarene is surrounded by devotees during the annual procession in Jones bridge, ManilaRomeo Ranoco/Reuters
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A volunteer with the fire service douses devotees with water as they take part in the annual procession of the Black Nazarene in ManilaCzar Dancel/Reuters

The procession is expected to last more than 20 hours as it slowly snakes its way around Manila's main avenues and narrow streets before ending in the Minor Basilica of the Black Nazarene. One devotee attributed his family's success to the Black Nazarene during an interview with Reuters: "This is my penitence because He has given me so much. The Lord solved all the problems that came our way ever since I started attending the Feast of the Black Nazarene 16 years ago," said Roilo Damiucon, a 72-year-old devotee.

The procession has been celebrated for more than 200 years in Manila, where roughly 80 percent of the population is Roman Catholic. The statue paraded in the streets is no longer the original, which has been damaged and is now preserved in the Minor Basilica of the Black Nazarene.

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A man kisses the statue of the Black Nazarene during the annual religious procession in ManilaTed Aljibe/AFP
Black Nazarene
Thousands of people carry the statue of the Black Nazarene during the annual religious procession in ManilaTed Aljibe/AFP
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A girl hugs a replica of the black statue of Jesus Christ during the annual Black Nazarene Catholic religious procession in ManilaErik De Castro/Reuters
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People hold on to a rope that pulls the carriage carrying the statue of the Black Nazarene during its annual procession in ManilaEzra Acayan/Reuters
Black Nazarene
Devotees carry a woman who fainted while taking part in the annual procession of the Black Nazarene in ManilaEzra Acayan/Reuters
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People push children's pushchairs with replicas of the statue of the Black Nazarene (and a child) during the annual religious procession in ManilaTed Aljibe/AFP