Home News Philippines observes Good Friday with crucifixions and whippings | Religion News

Philippines observes Good Friday with crucifixions and whippings | Religion News

Philippines observes Good Friday with crucifixions and whippings | Religion News


Catholic devotees in the Philippines re-enacting the last moments of Jesus Christ were nailed to wooden crosses while others whipped themselves bloody in extreme displays of religious devotion on Good Friday.

While most Filipinos went to church or spent the holiday with family, thousands gathered in villages around San Fernando city, north of the capital Manila, to watch men punish themselves in a bid to atone for their sins or seek miracles from God.

Dozens of bare-chested flagellants wearing black shrouds and crowns made of vines walked barefoot through dusty, narrow streets, rhythmically flogging their backs with strips of bamboo tied to ropes, their blood soaking the tops of their trousers and splattering onlookers.

In San Juan village, a short, wiry man with wild, white hair playing the role of Jesus Christ and two others were dragged by neighbours dressed as Roman centurions to a raised mound where wooden crosses lay on the ground.

As spectators filmed on their mobile phones, three-inch (7.6-cm) nails were driven into the men’s palms and the crosses were hoisted upright.

Several minutes later the crosses were lowered to the ground and the nails pulled out.

“I will keep doing this while I’m alive, for as long as my body is able to do it. That is my vow,” said retired fisherman Wilfredo Salvador, 67, who began playing the role of Jesus Christ in the mock crucifixions 16 years ago following a mental breakdown.

“This is nothing. Sometimes it heals after a day and I am able to wash dishes and bathe,” Salvador said of his wounds.

Ten people were nailed or strung up on crosses at three crucifixion sites, San Fernando city councillor Reginaldo David told reporters.

The extreme acts are frowned upon by the Catholic Church in the Philippines and health experts.

The Philippine health department urged the public this week to “avoid acts or rites that lead to physical wounds and injuries”.

“We join the pastoral guidance of our faith leaders, guiding all towards religious practices that are safe and healthy,” it said in a statement.

But for devotees like 23-year-old Ian Bautista, who has been taking part in the floggings since he was 15 and is one of four flagellants in his family, the suffering was for a good cause.

“It’s for my mother,” Bautista said, explaining that she had surgery for an ovarian cyst on Monday and that he believed taking part would help her recovery.

“It’s painful but I will do this until my body gives up.”



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