Easter: People nailed to crosses while others beat themselves in blood-soaked religious ceremonies

Easter: People nailed to crosses while others beat themselves in blood-soaked religious ceremonies

Thousands of people watch annual spectacle, which is frowned on by Catholic Church

Catholic worshippers have been nailed to wooden crosses in a gory Easter ritual in the Philippines.

Four men and a woman, some wearing crowns of twigs, were escorted by villagers dressed as Roman centurions and nailed to crosses on a dusty hill to mark Good Friday.

Other Christian devotees flogged themselves or took part in religious plays in San Petro Cutud village to re-enact the suffering of Jesus. Similar reenactments played out in nearby farming towns in the northern Philippines.

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Thousands of people, including many tourists, watched the spectacle, which is frowned upon by the Catholic Church.

“We’re from Poland, so it’s also a Catholic country but there is nothing like that. It’s much more peaceful and quiet,” said visitor Magdalena Tyburcy.

Prior to the reenacted crucifixions, dozens of barefoot penitents beat their bare backs with sharp bamboo sticks and wood. Some had their backs with razors cut to keep them bloody.

Sterilised nails are used in the rituals and, after they are lowered from the crosses, the devotees are checked by medical workers to make sure they are no complications from their injuries. 

Painter Ruben Enaje, 59, was nailed to the cross for the 33rd time as part of giving thanks to God after surviving a fall from a building.

“Next year, I’m going to be a senior. Our bones are a bit different, you start to get hurt. I’ll just pass down [this tradition] to someone younger than me,” he said.

Another regular, Mary Jane Sazon, marked her 16th time on the cross.

“When I do this devotion, my prayers come true,” Ms Sazon said. ”Then I stopped. I started having health problems again, so I joined the crucifixion again. I felt that through my devotion, whatever illness I feel goes away.”

The Philippines is Asia’s largest Catholic nation.

Other Lent traditions include street plays with devotees reenacting the Way of the Cross and a marathon chanting of the Pasyon, a Philippine narrative of the suffering of Christ.

The Catholic Church discourages rituals and instead calls for the faithful to mark Lent with prayers and acts of charity.

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