Philippines Good Friday crucifixions: Devotees nailed to crosses to re-enact suffering of Christ

Flagellants also beat themselves with wooden sticks as part of events

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The Independent Online

Crowds gathered in parts of the Philippines on Good Friday, to watch Catholic devotees nail themselves to wooden crosses in an act mimicking the suffering of Jesus Christ.

Devotees believe that such extreme displayers of devoutness are a way to atone for their sins, attain miracle cures for illnesses, or give thanks to God.

Church leaders, of a nation where 80 per cent of its 100 million people are Catholics, have spoken out against the annual practice which combines Christian devotion with folk beliefs.

However, both the devotees and the crowds who watch them ignore these calls, particularly in the northern village of San Pedro Cutud, in Pampanga province, where the rituals are especially popular.

Before the crucifixions, hundreds of barefoot flagellants walk the streets whipping their bare backs with bamboo sticks dangling from a rope.


Images from a dusty mound in Pampanga show men dressed as Roman soldiers dousing the hands and feet of devotees with alcohol, before hammering sterilised nails into their flesh.    

Some 4,000 spectators – including dozens of foreign tourists – gathered to watch the event today.

“I think it takes an incredible amount of dedication and commitment to really go through something like that,” said American tourist Tracy Sengillo. “It's really fascinating.”

This year, organisers banned foreigners from joining in, to prevent the event from “becoming a circus,” said Councilor Harvey Quiwa.

“I started doing this when my mother got sick, kidney problem. I vowed and prayed to God so that she could be cured,” said electrician Marvin Tao, 25, who has been a flagellant for nine years.

As the devotees were lowered from the crosses, medical workers gathered and carried them away on stretchers to ensure there were no complications from their injuries.

Additional reporting by PA