SEVEN CATHOLIC DEVOTEES NAILED TO THE CROSS IN THE PHILLIPINES
Seven Filipino Roman Catholic devotees, including a woman, have been nailed to wooden crosses as a mark of honour for Jesus Christ and Good Friday reenactment of his suffering.
The demonstration was watched by thousands of spectators but frowned upon by church leaders.
Last Friday, three devotees wearing crowns of twigs were nailed to crosses by villagers dressed as Roman centurions on a dusty hill in San Pedro Cutud village, and four others were nailed to crosses in nearby farming villages in San Fernando city north of Manila, tourism officer Ching Pangilinan said.
Friday’s reenactment of Christ’s crucifixion was the 32nd for Ruben Enaje, a 57-year-old sign painter who began his yearly rite after surviving a fall from a building. He plans to stop when he turns 60.
While the crucifixions have become a tradition for villagers, they still leave many foreign tourists bewildered.
Mayor Edwin Santiago of San Fernando, where San Pedro Cutud lies, said more than 400 police officers were deployed and first-aid stations set up to look after the huge crowds.
Archbishop Socrates Villegas however said it’s best for Catholics to mark Lent with prayers and acts of love and charity.
“Instead of spilling your blood on the streets, why not walk into a Red Cross office and donate blood? Choose to share life. Share your blood,” Villegas said in remarks posted on a Catholic church website.
Maryjane Sazon, a 39-year-old beauty salon worker, said she joined the reenactments seven years ago in the hope of being cured of severe headaches and a nervous breakdown.
Her act Friday was dedicated to her sick sister.
Prior to the cross nailings, dozens of male penitents walked several kilometers (miles) along village streets while beating their bare backs with sharp bamboo sticks and pieces of wood. Some had their backs cut to keep them bloody.