A raucous Roman Catholic procession in which up to a million Filipinos packed the streets of Manila for a chance to get close to a centuries-old statue of Jesus Christ left two men dead and about 1,000 hurt, officials said Saturday, in a prelude to a much larger turnout expected during next week’s visit by Pope Francis.

Barefoot devotees cling to kiss the cross of the Black Nazarene during a procession to celebrate its feast day Friday in Manila

 Huge crowds jostled for 20 hours Friday around a carriage carrying the wooden Black Nazarene with a cross along Manila’s streets.

The faithful threw small towels at volunteers on the carriage to wipe parts of the cross and the statue in the belief that the Nazarene’s mystical powers to cure ailments and provide good health and fortune will rub off on them.

One volunteer accompanying the statue died of a heart attack. Another man was found lifeless on the ground, apparently pinned by the people’s massive surge toward Quiapo Church at the end of procession before dawn Saturday, said Francis Tolentino, chairman of the Metropolitan Manila Development Authority. Read More

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