Just a touch is said to carry miraculous powers -- and the prospect of getting close to the life-size statue of Jesus, known as the Black Nazarene, is what attracted believers to Saint John the Baptist Church in the Philippines on Sunday.
Thousands of barefoot devotees joined the annual procession carrying the 200-year-old statue from the church through congested downtown Manila during the Feast of the Black Nazarene.
More than 1,500 police and volunteer marshals guarded the procession that weaved across a main road and through back alleys under a scorching sun, officials said.
Worshipers brave heat, crowds
The celebration is one of the largest in the Philippines, Asia''s only predominantly Roman Catholic country. The statue is also brought out on Good Friday.
After mass, mostly men wearing white shirts or maroon robes braved the heat and risked a stampede to ask special favors or give thanks for ones already granted as they followed the statue through the Plaza Miranda.