Catholic devotees are CRUCIFIED and hundreds whip themselves bloody with bamboo sticks for punishing Good Friday penitence ritual in the Philippines

  • WARNING GRAPHIC CONTENT:  Some fervent Catholics in country’s north reenact Christ’s death each year 
  • At least 10 men and a woman were set to be nailed to wooden crosses in four villages in the region today 
  • But the Catholic church has said Jesus’ death need not be repeated and ‘Holy Week… is not the time’ for pain

A volunteer was nailed to a cross with up to 10 more to follow while barefoot men beat themselves with flails on Good Friday, in a blood-soaked display of religious fervour in the Philippines.

Frowned upon by the Church, the ritual crucifixions and self-flagellation in the north of the country are extreme affirmations of faith performed every Easter in Asia’s Catholic outpost.

Wilfredo Salvador stared at the sky and appeared to mumble a prayer after the slight 62-year-old with wild grey hair and a long beard became the first local zealot this year to hang from a wooden cross.

Christian devotees whip their backs with bamboo strips on a street in San Juan, Pampanga on Good Friday during a reenactment of the crucifixion of Jesus

Hundreds of barefoot men beat themselves with flails and at least 10 were to be nailed onto crosses throughout Good Friday in the Philippines

Filipino penitent Mary Jane Sazon reacts as she is nailed to a wooden cross for the 8th year on Good Friday in San Pedro Cutud village, San Fernando

A Philippine Christian devotee is nailed to a cross during a reenactment of the Crucifixion of Christ during Good Friday ahead of Easter in the village of Cutud near San Fernando on April 19, 2019

Philippine Christian devotee Ruben Enaje, 58, is nailed to a cross during a reenactment of the Crucifixion of Christ during Good Friday ahead of Easter in the village of Cutud near San Fernando

Thousands of Catholic devotees witnessed dozens of men who were nailed to wooden crosses or flogged themselves bloody in annual rituals re-enacting the crucifixion of Jesus Christ

A Philippine Christian devotee is lowered from a cross after being nailed during a reenactment of the Crucifixion of Christ during Good Friday ahead of Easter in San Juan, Pampanga

Hundreds of barefoot men beat themselves with flails and at least 10 were to be nailed onto crosses throughout Good Friday in a blood-soaked worship display in the Philippines

A man portraying Jesus Christ knees on the ground during a re-enactment of his crucifixion during Good Friday in San Juan village in the Philippines, 19 April 2019

‘I will not stop this for as long as I am alive, because this is what gives me life,’ said Salvador, a fisherman who has been volunteering to be crucified for 14 straight years.

Assistants costumed as Roman centurions drove three-inch spikes through each of his hands and feet before the wooden cross was raised briefly for the crowds to see.

He was treated and bandaged at a first aid tent after the village square ritual – then nonchalantly walked back home.

Nine other men and a woman were set to be nailed to wooden crosses in three other villages in the region within the day, the local tourism office told reporters.

Filipino devotees are nailed on wooden crosses by assistants costumed as Roman centurions during a crucifixion re-enactment before a crowd of witnesses on Good Friday

A Catholic devotee is lowered after he was nailed to a wooden cross during Good Friday, in San Fernando City, Pampanga province, Philippines, April 19, 2019

Two Philippine Christian devotees are nailed to a cross during a reenactment of the Crucifixion of Christ, which is not sanctioned by the Church 

Filipino penitent Ruben Enaje reacts as he is nailed to a wooden cross for the 33rd year on Good Friday in San Pedro Cutud village, San Fernando

A flagellant has his back wounded to bleed as part of their penitence to God on Good Friday in the Philippines, Asia’s Catholic outpost 

Penitents whip their backs in San Juan village, San Fernando, Pampanga. Dozens of men flog themselves bloody in annual rituals re-enacting the crucifixion of Jesus Christ

A tattooed Christian devotee has his back whipped until he bleeds using bamboo strips on a street in San Juan on Good Friday

A Catholic devotee is nailed on a wooden cross during a ritual performed during Good Friday – spectacle has played out every year in villages around the city of San Fernando, about 40 miles north of Manila

Thousands of Catholic devotees turned out to witness dozens of men who volunteered to be nailed to wooden crosses or flog themselves bloody

A flagellant has wounded back cut again as part of a penitence ritual during the re-enactment of the crucifixion of Jesus Christ for Good Friday

Earlier Friday, hundreds of barefoot men wearing crowns of twigs and black shrouds walked silently on the side of a village road in the scorching tropical heat, flogging their backs with bamboo strips tied to a length of rope.

While many of the 80 million Filipino Catholics spend Good Friday at church or with family, others go to these extreme lengths to atone for sins or seek divine intervention in a spectacle that has become a major tourist attraction.

‘This is a religious vow. I will do this every year for as long as I am able,’ said 38-year-old truck driver Resty David, who has been self-flagellating for half his life.

He said he also hoped it would convince God to cure his cancer-stricken brother.

Filipino penitent Ruben Enaje is taken down after being nailed to a wooden cross for the 33rd year on Good Friday in San Pedro Cutud village, San Fernando, Philippines

Filipino penitent Ruben Enaje reacts as he is nailed to a wooden cross for the 33rd year on Good Friday in the Philippines 


Penitents perform acts of self-flagellation during Good Friday, in San Fernando City in the Pampanga province of the Philippines, which is almost 80 per cent Catholic

A boy whips a bloodied Filipino penitent who is taking part in a self-flagellation ritual on Good Friday in San Fernando City.

Penitents wear masks during Good Friday, 19 April 2019. Thousands of Catholics witnessed the crucifixions of dozens of men who were nailed to wooden crosses in the Philippines 

Devotees take part in annual rituals re-enacting the crucifixion of Jesus Christ, despite the church saying the his death is ‘a  once in a lifetime’ event that need not be repeated

A flagellant lies on the ground surrounded by children as part of their penitence during the re-enactment of the crucifixion of Jesus Christ

Two Filipino penitents perform self-flagellation in San Fernando City, Pampanga province on April 19 2019

A Catholic devotee is nailed on a wooden cross during a ritual performed during Good Friday, which one tourist described as ‘very intense’ 

Blood and sweat soaked through the penitents’ clothing with some spectators grimacing with each strike of the lash.

Some hid behind their companions to avoid the splatter of gore and ripped flesh.

Many in the crowds had driven for hours to witness the crucifixions – the frenzied climax of the day’s gory spectacle that Catholics say is a re-enactment the crucifixion of Jesus Christ.

German tourist Annika Ehlers, 24, was among them.

‘I’m a little bit overwhelmed. It’s very intense, I haven’t expected something like this,’ she said after watching Salvador’s crucifixion.

Christian devotees wearing masks to cover their faces whip their backs with blood-soaked bamboo strips on a street in San Juan, Pampanga

People line the streets – many having driven for hours – to witness the crucifixions and self-flagellation in San Fernando City on Good Friday

Two flagellants have their backs wounded to bleed as part of their penitence during the re-enactment of the crucifixion of Jesus Christ

Blood and sweat soaked through the penitents’ clothing with some spectators grimacing with each strike of the lash

Hundreds of barefoot men beat themselves with flails and at least 10 were to be nailed onto crosses throughout Good Friday

A flagellant has his back wounded to bleed as part of their penitence during the re-enactment of the crucifixion of Jesus Christ

A penitent prepares his mask on Good Friday in San Juan village, San Fernando before beginning a punishing self-flagellation ritual 

Penitents prepare for their annual Good Friday rituals which involve flogging themselves bloody, while others will be nailed to crosses in reenactments of the death of Christ

Local residents gather to observe masked Catholic penitents whipping their backs during Good Friday in San Juan village

A penitent is cut on his back during Good Friday in San Juan village about 40 miles north of the Philippine capital of Manila

The bloody spectacle has played out every year in villages around the city of San Fernando, about 40 miles north of Manila, despite Church entreaties to spend Lent in quiet prayer and reflection.

‘The crucifixion and death of Jesus are more than enough to redeem humanity from the effects of sins. They are once in a lifetime events that need not be repeated,’ Catholic Bishops’ Conference of the Philippines official Father Jerome Secillano said.

‘Holy Week… is not the time to showcase man’s propensity for entertainment and Pharisaical tendencies,’ he added.

Nearly 80 per cent of people in the Philippines are Catholic, a legacy of the nation’s 300 years of Spanish colonial rule that ended at the turn of the 20th century.

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