HomeChurch & AsiaPhilippines holds bloody crucifixions, whippings on Good Friday

Philippines holds bloody crucifixions, whippings on Good Friday

Some go to extreme lengths to atone for sins or seek divine intervention in rituals frowned on by the Church

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.

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.

- Newsletter -

“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.

“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.

Penitents walk the streets of villages, hitting their backs with whips embedded with blades, on Holy Thursday, April 6, 2023. (Photo by Jire Carreon)

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.

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.”

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.”

© Copyright LiCAS.news. All rights reserved. Republication of this article without express permission from LiCAS.news is strictly prohibited. For republication rights, please contact us at: [email protected]

Support LiCAS.news

We work tirelessly each day to tell the stories of those living on the fringe of society in Asia and how the Church in all its forms - be it lay, religious or priests - carries out its mission to support those in need, the neglected and the voiceless.
We need your help to continue our work each day. Make a difference and donate today.