Every year, a small but very staunch group of fervent Christians in the Southeast Asian nation of the Philippines crucify themselves on Good Friday, in an annual display of faith that draws thousands of spectators from around the world. In Cagayan Valley, thousands of Catholic devotees are expected to visit the region’s major pilgrimage sites this Holy Week to witness this bizarre act of devotion.
The Mount Calvary re-enactment of Christ’s death and resurrection in Bangan Hill is organized yearly by Bishop Ramon Villena of the diocese of Bayombong. Last year in 2016, around 17 Christians were nailed to the wooden crosses for graphic enactment of Jesus’ crucifixion.
Dozens of devotees can be seen on this occasion with their knees and hands bloodied and dragged to the cross to mourn and commemorate the Christ’s sufferings. While many others, dress themselves as Roman centurions, who help to enact these God-level crucifixions. These crucifixions do not last for long time as the mighty nails penetrate both hands and both feet, but do not bear the weight of those devotees. After a few minutes on the cross they are taken down and their wounds are treated.
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Crucifixion rites annually take place in Barangays San Pedro Cutud, Sta. Lucia and San Juan, but most tourists flock to San Pedro Cutud where “Kristo” Ruben Enaje would be nailed to the cross for the 31st year.
The local police force here has been placed on full alert as part of security preparations for Good Friday, when tens of thousands of tourists are expected to witness true-to-life crucifixions in Barangay San Pedro Cutud.
Mayor Edwin Santiago said the city government would ensure public safety in the observance of “Maleldo 2017” on Friday as they installed closed circuit television (CCTV) cameras in the crucifixion site.
Church leaders have spoken against the annual practice mixing Catholic devotion with folk belief, but it continues to draw big crowds, particularly in northern Pampanga province. The police Traffic Management Division will also reroute motorists in the vicinity of the three crucifixion sites on Good Friday. The city’s health and disaster management officers would also deploy medical teams in the crucifixion sites.