Tens of thousands of people gathered in the Philippines to watch a re-enactment of the crucifixion of Jesus Christ on Good Friday. Around two-dozen Filipinos were nailed to crosses on Friday, a practice that the Roman Catholic Church opposes.
Nearly 50,000 people gathered in the San Fernando, Pampanga, where the re-enactment took place, reported the Manila Bulletin. The practice started in the province around 60 years ago as a type of religious ceremony observed by poor people to seek forgiveness and for other reasons.
Reuters reported that at around two dozen had their hands nailed to a cross for a time before they were taken down and rushed to a hospital. Others flagellated their backs, and some carried wooden crosses.
“I am doing this for my family, so that no one will get sick and that my livelihood will continue. I am just a poor man,” said Alex Laranang, 58, who has been nailed 14 times so far, according to the Buletin.
And Ruben Inaje, a painter who has taken part in the ceremony for 27 years, said that “we do this because of our faith not because we’re paid,” reported Reuters.
But the Roman Catholic Church does not support the ceremony.
Father Francis Lucas, a spokesman for the Philippine bishops’ media office, told the Buletin: “We have so many crosses to bear in life. We don’t need to bear a real one.”
While the crucifixion were going on, tourists and onlookers watched.
“It’s intriguing and fascinating what makes people do something like this, how you can believe so much that you make yourself suffer to that extent,” said Dita Tittesass, a tourist from Denmark.
Remigio de la Cruz, the chief of San Pedro Cutud village, explained that the practice began in his village in the 1950s.
“We are aware that this has been practiced long before … but we still hope that this will not be done any more,” Archbishop Jose Palma, president of the Catholic Bishops Conference of the Philippines, told the church-run Radio Veritas.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.