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article imageFilipinos whipped and nailed to crosses in crucifixion ritual

By Kim I. Hartman     Apr 22, 2011 in World
San Fernando - Penitent Filipinos marched through villages, while being beaten with sticks and ropes, in a re-enactment of Jesus Christ’s suffering held yearly on Good Friday. The religious event culminates with a crucifixion ritual that the Catholic church rejects.
"The gory spectacle reflects the Philippines’ unique brand of Catholicism, which merges church traditions with folk superstitions. Many of the mostly impoverished penitents undergo the ritual to atone for sins, pray for the sick or a better life and give thanks for what they believe were God-given miracles," according to a report by Associated Press in the Washington Post.
Tens of thousands of devout Filipino's lined the village streets to witness the annual event, which is held to mark the day when Christians believe Jesus Christ was put to death for their sins. The procession follows the devotees as they make their way through the streets of at least three villages in the northern Pampanga province to rice fields where they await their crucifixion.
The penitents, some dressed in robes, others adorned with crowns made of tin or palms, are severely "beaten on their bare backs with sharp bamboo sticks and pieces of wood, sometimes splashing spectators with blood. Some participants opened cuts in the penitents’ backs using broken glass to ensure the ritual was sufficiently bloody," reports say.
"Foreigners have been banned from taking part in the extreme ritual after an Australian comic was nailed to a cross under a false name a few years ago near Pampanga," reported the AP. "Authorities also believe that a Japanese man sought to be crucified as part of a porn film in 1996, tourism officer Ching Pangilinan said."
“They made a mockery out of a local tradition,” she said.
"Church leaders in the Philippines, Asia’s largest predominantly Roman Catholic nation, have frowned on the Easter week rituals, saying Filipinos can show their deep faith without hurting themselves."
Archbishop Angel Lagdameo said, "The crucifixions and self-flagellation's are an imperfect imitation with doubtful theological and social significance. Only Jesus Christ’s death saved mankind."
"The bloody rites reflect the church’s failure to fully educate many Filipinos on Christian tenets," said Pampanga Bishop Pablo Virgilio David.
Three-inch custom-made stainless steel nails, which are soaked in alcohol for a year and then rinsed with Holy Water, are used to pierce the hands and feet of Filipinos' who endure the bizarre ordeal. They are crucified three at a time while throngs of people view the unique services held in the predominately Catholic country. After the crucifixion services have ended, participant's bathe in the sea to cleanse their wounds and to wash away their sins.
"San Pedro Cutud village leader Remigio dela Cruz said no penitent has experienced any major health problem since the cross nailings began there in the 1950s," the AP reports.
More about Filipinos, whipped and nailed to crosses, Crucifixion, Ritual, Good friday
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