A zealot celebrates his 34th Easter by crucifixion himself. An unpopular custom associated with Good Friday has returned after being put on hold for three years due to the spread of COVID.
Harrowing images have surfaced online showing eight individuals willingly being nailed to crosses in the Philippines as part of a gruesome custom that the Catholic church has prohibited to remember Christ’s suffering.
Participants like 62-year-old Ruben Enaje, who told the Guardian, “I always feel nervous because I could end up dying on the cross,” expressed anxiety when asked about being crucified.
On Friday, in the rural community of San Pedro Cutud in Pampanga province, a bloody ritual was carried out, Storyful said; it was the first time it had been carried out since the beginning of the COVID pandemic in 2020.
Only eight of the planned initially twelve persons participated in the extreme JC cosplay, which still draws thousands of believers and tourists worldwide.
Videos uploaded alongside this article on Facebook depict the flagellants strapped to their crosses.
Next, in a scene that could have been lifted from Mel Gibson’s “Passion of the Christ” (2004), they are set up on a hill in front of a mob.
Possibly the most committed performer was Enaje, who today suffered through his 34th and, most likely, final crucifixion.
The artist added in a press conference before the ritual, “I truly want to retire from this because of my age, but let’s see if my body can still endure the torture next year.”
While being lauded for his grit, the Passionate penitent claims he fears for his life each time he ascends the cross.
Enaje said, “My body starts to feel cold when I’m laid on the cross.” I close my eyes and tell myself, ‘I can do this,’ even when my hands are tied. I’ve got this! According to the Guardian, the pious Catholic initially felt compelled to carry out this horrible act of penance after witnessing an “alleged miracle” in 1985.
It was said he had landed on his feet three stories after falling.
The follower persisted in the strange ritual even after close family members recovered from life-threatening illnesses, eventually gaining the title of “Christ” at the annual reenactments.
Only a tiny part of the rite entails reenacting the crucifixion itself; the rest is a fusion of local traditional beliefs and Catholicism, during which the reenactors get quite “method.”
With wearing thorny crowns and huge wooden crosses on their backs á la “Ben Hur,” Enaje and his fellow flagellants are paraded around the streets for 0.6 miles before the grand finale.
Later, villagers dressed as Roman centurions stand them on crosses in the hot sun for 10 minutes while hammering 4-inch nails through their palms and feet.
While this happens, other followers sprawl down on the ground and get their backs flogged with bleeding bamboo flails.
While this may sound discouraging, many pilgrims insist it is not.
“It’s less terrible than people believe,” said Johnson Gareth, a British tour organizer who sends tourists worldwide to watch the crucifixions.
The crucifier assured onlookers that, contrary to popular belief, the act is conducted in a “very polite way.”
American visitor Tracy Sengillo, who witnessed the event in 2015, remarked, “I believe it takes an unbelievable level of dedication and commitment to go through something like that.” “It’s fascinating in a lot of ways.”
Like many traditions, Enaje’s ceremony served to forgive wrongdoing, pray for the sick, and give appreciation for a miracle.
The Catholic church has condemned this form of folk Catholicism, even though its adherents mean well. The church prefers that its followers demonstrate their faith through safer, less extreme means, such as donating blood.
Fasting and consuming hot cross buns are two modern customs of Good Friday, the Friday before Easter.
Many preachers and priests in the Philippines hold the Church accountable for the widespread ignorance of Christian doctrine among the population.
A prominent Catholic priest, Robert Reyes, asked, “Where were we church people when they started doing this?” The more we pass judgment on someone, the more we push them away.
According to the Mirror, the crucifixions have brought international attention to San Pedro Cutud, which is a genuine benefit.
Almost 15,000 people worldwide, including residents of the nearby poor rice hamlet, traveled there this year to experience the spectacle, which has been compared to a biblical Woodstock.
“They enjoy it here because it’s so unique,” Gareth explained.