Over a dozen people have been nailed to crosses in the Philippines to re-enact the death of Jesus.More than a dozen penitents have been nailed to wooden crosses across the largely Catholic Philippines while others beat their backs bloody in gory re-enactments of Jesus Christ’s suffering and death.
The main site of the Good Friday crucifixions and flagellations was San Pedro Cutud, a village in the northern province of Pampanga, where 10 penitents had 5cm-long nails hammered into their palms and feet on wooden crosses.
The crosses were then lifted for at least five minutes for each penitent, whose outstretched arms were also tied with cloth to prevent them from falling.
Signpost painter Ruben Enaje, 58, led the crucifixions in San Pedro Cutud and was nailed for the 32nd time this year. Nine other residents were also crucified in the village and nearby San Juan and Santa Lucia.
“I will do this as penance and thanksgiving to God as long as I physically can,” Enaje said. “This is a small sacrifice for all the blessings my family has received since I started doing this.”
In the town of Paombong in Bulacan province, a woman faith healer was among at least three devotees nailed to the cross for the 13th year.
Thousands of devotees and tourists witnessed the crucifixions in the villages, where dozens of barefoot and hooded men walk around beating their backs bloody using whips fitted with bamboo sticks.
Others carried wooden crosses or lay on the hot pavement as men flogged their backs.
“I do this for my family and relatives, so that we will be kept safe always,” said a 25-year-old penitent who identified himself only as Mark, as he lashed his back during a 2km walk to the cathedral in San Pedro Cutud.
The Catholic Church does not encourage these extreme acts of faith, but does little to stop such rituals that serve as the highlight of Easter celebrations in the Philippines.
Archbishop Romulo Valles, head of the Catholic Bishops Conference of the Philippines, urged devotees to instead focus on practices of prayer, alms givings and fasting as penance.
“True alms giving helps us to stay away from greed and self-centredness and inspires us and allows ourselves to be Christ-like to others,” he said in a message to Filipino Catholics.
“Fasting allows us to experience the pain and misery of the poor around us,” he added.
Easter is a major religious event in the Philippines, where more than 85 per cent of the population is Catholic.