While many Christians around the world prepare the celebrating the Easter holiday with a visit from the Easter bunny, chocolate, fish on Good Friday and church, devout Catholics in the Philippines prepare to embark on their own unique tradition of nailing themselves to a cross for the weekend. All while tourists and supports look on, snapping pictures and taking video.
Happening mainly in the Pampanga province in northern Philippines, it’s a ceremony that mixes their deeply Roman Catholic beliefs with their folk traditions. The Church, however, does not endorse the event.
Archbishop Angel Lagdameo, based in Iloilo province, told media the crucifixions and self-flagellation’s are an “imperfect imitation with doubtful theological and social significance.”
But villagers disagree. A 50-year old sign painter, who’s been crucified 25 times now says it bring him closer to his divine maker. Ruben Enaje started taking part in the ritual after falling off a three story building without a scratch.
“Not a bone in my body was broken when I fell from that building,” he told The Associate Press. “It was a miracle.”
“Now, I’m praying for good health and more clients,” adding, “When I’m up there on the cross, I feel very close to God… We grew up with this tradition and nothing can stop us.”
Last year more than 30,000 people came to watch 24 men be nailed to their crosses by other villagers dressed like Roman guards, after walking through the crowd hitting their backs with sticks and wood. Blood can splash on spectators, and some actually help make it more bloody by cutting the men with glass as they walk by. The whole time the men put themselves through this intensely physically and emotionally draining event they pray for a better life.
If anything, it seems to be for improving one’s threshold for pain. [Source]