Good Friday Crucifixions

In the Phillipines, some people celebrate Good Friday by nailing themselves to crosses.

Yes, they actually have themselves nailed to crosses. They only stay up on the cross for about ten minutes, but still, it has to be agonizing. They also have their backs whipped until they are bloody, just ass Jesus was flogged by the Romans. They do this out of piety or to fulfill a sacred vow or panata.  As Catholic Archbishop Rolando Tirona explained;

“The panata becomes so personal that nobody can correct or change them. They promise they will do this if their sick grandmother gets better and when she gets better, they say they have to fulfil their vows,”

The Catholic Church is against this practice, but there is little they can do to stop these people.

One of the most outspoken critics of the bloody rituals, Catholic Archbishop Rolando Tirona of a Manila district, said they were a misreading of church teachings, but he conceded there were powerful cultural reasons behind them.

This certainly is a misunderstanding of Christian teachings. It is entirely unnecessary. Jesus died on the cross precisely so we wouldn’t have to. You cannot bargain with God. I don’t see how He benefits from someone suffering nor would he ask such a price in return for making someone’s grandmother get better. This is simply the worst sort of superstition.

To make matters worse, it has also become a tourist attraction in some parts of the Phillipines.

Enaje said he heard that other Philippine villages were paying people to be crucified, but insisted that things were different in Cutud.

“The people in Cutud are sincere. We aren’t doing it for the money,” he said.

But as the religious ceremonies went on in Cutud, dozens of vendors hawked souvenirs, hats, cold drinks and snacks to the crowds of curious locals and Western tourists.

German photojournalist Gunther Deichmann, a longtime resident of the Philippines, said the event was not as genuine as it had once been.

“It’s a little bit more like a carnival now. Maybe 20 years ago it was more realistic,” he said.

District tourism officer Ching Pangilinan denied church charges of commercilisation, saying local authorities had an obligation to manage the event to prevent tourists from mobbing the place or being robbed.

“People just come whether we promote it or not. So tourism assistance is necessary,” she said.


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