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Devotees in northern Philippine villages re-enact the crucifixion of Jesus Christ to mark Good Friday

Catholics in the Philippines Re-Enact Christ's Crucifixion

SAN PEDRO CUTUD, Philippines (AP) - Devotees in northern Philippine villages had themselves nailed to wooded crosses to re-enact the crucifixion of Jesus Christ as thousands of local and foreign spectators watched the bloody annual rites to mark Good Friday in Asia's largest Roman Catholic nation.

Church leaders and health officials have spoken against the practice, which mixes Roman Catholic devotion with folk belief, but the annual rites continue to draw participants and huge crowds, particularly in northern Pampanga province.

Sign painter Ruben Enaje, 53, had himself nailed to a cross at a dusty mound in Pampanga's San Pedro Cutud village for the 28th year. He began his yearly rite after surviving a fall from a building. Men dressed as Roman soldiers hammered stainless steel nails into his palms and feet, as a crowd of onlookers stood with cameras ready to capture his and other penitents' agony.

Lasse Spang Olsen, a 48-year-old filmmaker from Denmark, also had himself nailed to a cross, joining Enaje and eight other Filipino devotees. He grimaced in pain as nails pierced his hands and feet.

CORRECTION Philippines Crucifixions

Olsen said he made a film two years ago about Enaje's yearly crucifixion and decided to have himself crucified after falling sick twice. He had a small camera attached to his cross while a colleague filmed his experience.

"It's a personal matter between me and (God)," he said, with his finger pointing up. After being helped down from the cross, he said of his experience: "Fantastic, you should try it."

Archbishop Socrates Villegas, head of the Catholic Bishops Conference of the Philippines, discouraged the crucifixions.

"If what you do makes you love others more, then it is pleasing to God," he said. "But if you do it for photographs, just to be famous, that is spiritual vanity."

The health department also discouraged the practice because of health risks. Health Undersecretary Eric Tayag urged devotees to get anti-tetanus shots.

Devotees undergo the crucifixions in the belief that such extreme sacrifices are a way to atone for their sins, attain miracle cures for illnesses or give thanks to God.

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kmcc895370 April 18 2014 at 12:28 PM

There's a small group of people in western US called the Penetants. They regularly reenact the torture and death of Jesus. With them it's a way of life.

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1 reply
kmcc895370 kmcc895370 April 18 2014 at 12:30 PM

If only I had as much faith as they.

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1 reply
bjredmond64 kmcc895370 April 18 2014 at 12:41 PM

faith comes by hearing the word of God. Yeshua is the Word. Hear Him.

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shilg123 April 18 2014 at 1:17 PM

this is insane. God would not need us to re-enact this
This is wrong

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1 reply
spike shilg123 April 18 2014 at 1:27 PM

We don't need to reinact the civil war either but millions do.Is that wrong?

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1 reply
buffalogal spike April 18 2014 at 3:06 PM

Only if the ammo is live.

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Big Ted April 18 2014 at 12:27 PM

I have witnessed these re-enactment's many years ago in the Pampanga province,whole statiioned
at Clark AFB.

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mercymfa April 18 2014 at 12:48 PM

This is what religious people do, If you want to do the right thing, then do the word of God. Your sacrifices He does not need, but a broken spirit and a contrite heart. The Lord said: With their mouth they bless me, and with the same mouth they course the world or people. This does not impress God, but our dailly good actions. Psalm 51:17

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Jean April 18 2014 at 12:59 PM

This act is not required of Christians. It's sad that these people are allowing themselves to be tortured this way. Yikes

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ccgndy April 18 2014 at 1:14 PM

Spirituallity, religious not.

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1 reply
buffalogal ccgndy April 18 2014 at 3:10 PM

Site the difference, please.
In your words.

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Judy April 18 2014 at 1:15 PM

What the heck! I wonder what our Lord Jesus would think of such stupidity.

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2 replies
kmjj Judy April 18 2014 at 1:31 PM

I think He might say something like this: "Judge not, lest ye be judged."

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De Mush doctor Judy April 18 2014 at 7:49 PM

Not my lord, i have no lord...speak for yourself.

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Elaine Edford April 18 2014 at 11:54 AM

I would say "consistently stupid"--not stunning.

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manny6168 April 18 2014 at 12:15 PM

I am from the Phillipines and I don't agree with this practice. This ritual is isolated in one province.
But if these devotees feel that they become closer to God and doing it for the purpose of self atonement, then so be it. It's between them and God.

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1 reply
d.maxine.jordan manny6168 April 18 2014 at 12:27 PM

Well, actually it's not... People paint a large brush on any group, and when one subset of Christianity do such foolish things, unfortunately, it reflects on all Christians.

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SRJimVal2 April 18 2014 at 1:09 PM

Isn't there something in the bible that talks about hurting yourself - Self Mutilation or something like that? Anyway, people who do that aren't proving anything but their own Martyrdom. It's plain ridiculous and pointless.

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