In graphic reenactments of the crucifixion of Jesus on Good Friday, at least 17 men have been nailed to wooden crosses in the Philippines in an extreme act of devotion, one of whom said he offered his penance for peace in Belgium after Monday’s jihadist attacks.
The grisly voluntary crucifixions were carried out throughout the day as thousands of spectators looked on, and as other penitents engaged in self-flagellation with whips until the blood flowed.
Dozens of penitents, imitating Christ’s suffering, dragged heavy wooden crosses, often with hands and knees bloodied, in cities and towns across the country.
Others, dressed as Roman centurions, help enact the voluntary crucifixions, which last a few minutes. Nails penetrate both hands and both feet, but do not bear the weight of the penitents. After a few minutes on the cross they are taken down and their wounds are treated.
Penitents participate in these extreme acts to request divine intervention, to atone for sin, or in gratitude for previous divine favors.
One such penitent, Willy Salvador, groaned quietly as nails were hammered through his hands and feet into the wooden cross on which he was lying in the city of San Juan.
“I know you would not believe me, but God helped me recover from a nervous breakdown,” the slender man told AFP as he reenacted the crucifixion of Jesus.
“This is my personal way of thanking Him for healing me,” said the man who has had himself nailed to a cross every Good Friday since 2006.
Another Filipino man, Ruben Enaje, was crucified today for the thirtieth consecutive year in the town of San Pedro Cutud, north of Manila. He said he offered his sacrifice for peace in Belgium and other countries targeted by Islamic extremists.
Enaje was fixed to the cross with 3-inch steel nails and he remained on the cross for 11 minutes of penance. Once the ritual was finished, the man was taken down from the cross and carried off on a stretcher.
The Good Friday ritual is frowned upon by religious leaders in the Philippines, Asia’s largest Roman Catholic nation, but the gory ritual has persisted.
The Crucifixion in San Pedro Cutud is one of the Holy Week ceremonies that attracts most local visitors and foreign tourists in the Philippines, which along with East Timor is the only Asian country with a Catholic majority.
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