Philippines holds bloody crucifixions, whippings on Good Friday

  • Some Cathoilc Filipinos marked Good Friday by flagellating and being nailed to crosses. 
  • This was done as an extreme act to atone for their sins. 
  • The country’s health department warned participants they risked tetanus and other infections.

Catholic zealots were nailed to wooden crosses while others whipped their backs bloody and raw in gruesome displays of religious devotion on Good Friday in the Philippines.

While most people in the religious, Catholic-majority country spend the day at Mass or with their families, some go to extreme lengths to atone for sins or seek divine intervention in rituals frowned on by the Church.

In San Juan village, north of Manila, hundreds of residents and tourists watched a blood-soaked re-enactment of Jesus Christ’s last moments.

Dozens of men wearing crowns made out of vines and cloth over their faces walked barefoot through narrow streets, flogging themselves non-stop with bamboo whips.

Blood ran down their backs, soaking the top of their trousers and splattering spectators crowded in front of shops and houses.

Some flagellants stopped to prostrate on the ground so they could be beaten with flip-flops and pieces of wood.

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When blood stopped oozing from their wounds, their skin was punctured with razor blades or a wooden mallet embedded with glass shards to make them bleed.

“I do it for my family to make them healthy,” said Daren Pascual, 31, after whipping his back in a warmup for the main event.

Philippine Christian devotee Ruben Enaje performs his 34th re-enactment of the crucifixion of Jesus Christ on Good Friday in San Fernando, Pampanga province on April 7, 2023.

“You just pray, then you cannot feel the pain.”

In the final stage of the performance, three men were escorted by costumed Roman centurions to a dirt mound where two of them were tied to wooden crosses.

Wilfredo Salvador, a small and wiry former fisherman who played the role of Jesus Christ, had nails driven through his palms and feet as drones flew overhead and tourists took photos and videos with their smartphones.

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After several minutes, the nails were pulled out and Salvador was lowered to the ground. He was carted off on a stretcher to the medical tent for a check-up – before going home in a tricycle taxi.

“He (God) gives me physical strength unlike others who cannot bear it,” said Salvador, 66, who began taking part in the crucifixion 15 years ago after suffering a mental breakdown.

“I do this by choice. I thank him (God) for giving me a second life.”

An actor portraying Jesus carries a cross during a

An actor portraying Jesus carries a cross during a street performance depicting the passion and death of Jesus as part of Lenten observance at a village in Mandaluyong City, suburban Manila on April 6, 2023.

The spectacle has been performed in villages around San Fernando city for decades, but the crucifixions were cancelled for the past three years due to Covid-19.

The health department warned participants they risked tetanus and other infections.

“It’s very clear that the crucifixion of Christ is more than enough to save humanity from sin,” said Father Jerome Secillano, executive secretary of the Catholic Bishops Conference of the Philippines’ public affairs committee.

“If you want your sins to be forgiven, go to confession.”

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