Ur Place

March 23, 2008

Man crucified for 22nd time

Filed under: Lifestyle — halfevil @ 6:15 pm

A MAN has been crucified for the 22nd time in a gruesome Easter ritual.

Devout Roman Catholic Ruben Enaje donned a crown of thorns before being nailed to a cross.

The 47-year-old decorator was the first of 19 men in this northern Philippines village of San Pedro Cutud who underwent the bloody Easter crucifixion ritual, an extreme form of penance by devotees wanting to thank God for answering their prayers.

He missed the ritual once – eight years ago – when he was struck down with stomach ulcers and his wife was taken ill.
 
“It is painful and difficult. But I will continue doing this for as long as I can,” the father-of-four said.

“This is my pledge to God.”

Thousands of tourists braved the tropical heat to see the religious rites.

The re-enactment of the crucifixion of Jesus Christ is part of a annual spectacle, and often shocks outsiders in this devoutly Roman Catholic nation.

Neighbours costumed like Roman centurions dragged Enaje and the other penitents through the village streets and toward a barren hill where three wooden crosses and a large crowd of at least 2000 tourists awaited.

He screamed in agony as 18-centimetre metal nails were driven into both palms and feet while lying spread-eagled over the cross.

The wooden contraption was stood for about five minutes before it was hauled down again and the nails pulled out. The process was repeated for the other volunteers.

Hours ahead of the ceremony, scores of other local men whipped themselves bloody with strips of bamboo attached to strings to atone for their sins.

The dominant Roman Catholic Church frowns on extreme practices and the health department has warned the penitents to take anti-tetanus shots first and to sterilise their equipment.
 
“The church does not recommend it because the church is against self-flagellation,” said local parish priest Father Norman Vitug.

“Of course when we express our faith to the Lord the Church does not want us to hurt ourselves for us to experience the Love of God.

“But we cannot question somebody’s faith. It’s just an expression of their faith. We do not lead their lives so we do not know what happens to them while experiencing that, so we might as well respect it.”

The crucifixions are organised by the village council, with help from the national government’s tourism department, said village official Leonard David.

The order of the crucifixions were done “according to seniority”, with Enaje first because he had done it the most in the past.

Health Secretary Francisco Duque said that as it was hard to discourage “flagellants from whipping their own flesh, the best penitents can do is ensure that their whips are well-maintained.

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