Filipino Catholic Devotees Crucified in Annual Good Friday Tradition

In a solemn and controversial display of religious devotion, Catholic devotees in the Philippines underwent the symbolic crucifixion of Jesus Christ on Good Friday, enduring the sweltering heat and the piercing pain of nails driven through their hands and feet in a re-enactment of the Passion of Christ.

San Pedro Cutud village in Pampanga province, north of the Philippine capital Manila, served as the focal point for this annual demonstration of faith, drawing approximately 20,000 Filipino and foreign spectators to witness the poignant spectacle. Despite reservations from the Roman Catholic Church in the Philippines, the tradition persists, embodying the unwavering commitment of devotees to their religious beliefs.

Under the scorching sun, actors garbed as Roman soldiers scourged devotees carrying crosses, leading up to the climactic moment when nails, each three inches in length, were hammered through the hands and feet of three individuals, including Ruben Enaje, 63, who underwent crucifixion for the 35th consecutive year.

Reflecting on his experience, Enaje shared with reporters his profound contemplation of Jesus’s suffering during his journey to Calvary, expressing uncertainty about the longevity of his participation in the ritual as age takes its toll on his body.

In addition to the crucifixions in San Pedro Cutud, seven more individuals were crucified in other villages across Pampanga, underscoring the widespread observance of this tradition among Filipino Catholics.

The crucifixions stand as the most extreme manifestation of faith in the Philippines, a predominantly Catholic nation where approximately 80% of the population identifies as Roman Catholics. Rooted in the belief in Jesus’s sacrificial death and resurrection, the ritual serves as a visceral expression of devotion and penance for sins.

Beyond crucifixions, Holy Week in the Philippines witnesses various acts of religious devotion, including self-flagellation with bamboo whips, which devotees view as acts of penance believed to purify the soul, alleviate suffering, and invoke divine blessings. While such practices are frowned upon by the Catholic Church, many believers continue to observe them as integral aspects of their Lenten observance.

As the faithful immerse themselves in acts of piety and reflection during Holy Week, the crucifixion re-enactments in the Philippines remain a poignant testament to the enduring power of faith and the profound significance of the Passion of Christ in the lives of believers.