The Filipinos are about to be crucified despite the opposition of the church.

SAN PEDRO CUTUD, Philippines (AP) — At least 12 Filipinos are to be crucified to depict the suffering of Jesus Christ in a Good Friday tradition that has been rejected by the Catholic Church but draws huge crowds of pilgrims and tourists to the Philippines. Asia’s foundation of Christianity.

The real-life crucifixions took place in the farming village of San Pedro Cutud in Pampanga province, north of Manila. It resumes after a three-year break Due to the corona virus outbreak. At least 12 men, including 62-year-old sign painter Ruben Aje, will participate in the 34th wooden cross in Kutud and two other nearby villages, organizers said.

ENAJ said he would use a rare penance, possibly among the last, because of his age, to pray for an end to the COVID-19 virus and an end to Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. Gas and food prices have risen worldwide..

“I really want to retire from this because of my age, but let’s see if my body can still bear the pain next year,” Aje told The Associated Press days before his crucifixion.

The father-of-four has been seen in some media reports as one of the world’s greatest heroes for his annual adventure, “but to tell the truth, I always feel anxious because I will be dead on the cross.”

“When I lie on the cross, my body feels cold. When my hands are tied, I close my eyes and say to myself: ‘I can do this. I can do this,” he said.

In the year In 1985, when he fell from a three-story building, he was grateful for what he considered a miracle that he survived unharmed. As “Christ” on the Way of the Cross during Lent, he extended the ritual after his loved ones recovered from serious illnesses, turning into a village celebrity.

Before their crucifixion on a dusty hill, Neje and other devotees wear crowns of thorns and carry heavy wooden crosses on their backs for more than a kilometer (half a mile) in the sweltering heat. Village actors dressed as Roman centurions later hammer 4-inch (10-centimeter) stainless steel nails into their palms and feet on a cross under the sun for 10 minutes.

Other penitents walk the village streets barefoot and beat their bare backs with sharpened bamboo sticks and sticks. In the past, some participants used broken glass to make slits in the penitent’s back to make sure the ritual was bloody enough.

The horror show reflects the Philippines’ unique brand of Catholicism, which combines church traditions with folk superstitions.

Most poor people follow rituals to atone for sins, to pray for the sick or for a better life, and to give thanks for miracles.

Church leaders in the Philippines say that by looking at the crucifixion and the self-flag, Filipinos can show their faith and religious commitment by not harming themselves and instead doing acts of charity, such as donating blood.

Robert Reyes, a prominent Catholic priest and human rights activist in the country, said the bloody rituals reflect the church’s failure to fully educate many Filipinos about the Christian faith, leaving them alone to explore personal ways of seeking divine help for all kinds of ailments. .

Folk Catholicism is rooted in the local religious culture, Reyes says, referring to the chaos. Procession of the black statue of Jesus Christ called Black Nazareth In January, which officials say annually draws more than a million pilgrims for one of Asia’s largest religious festivals. Many bring a towel to rub on the wooden statue, believing that it has the power to cure ailments and ensure good health and a better life.

“The question is, where were we church people when we started doing this?” Priests should immerse themselves in the communities and talk regularly with the villagers, Reyes asked.

Decades of crucifixions have put San Pedro Qutud, the poorest of more than 500 villages in the rice-growing province of Pampanga, on the map.

Organizers said they expect about 20,000 foreign and Filipino tourists and pilgrims to gather for the crucifixion. Police and marshals maintained order as villagers sold bottled water, hats, food and religious items.

“They like it because there is nothing like it on earth,” said British tour operator Johnson Gareth, who brought 15 tourists from eight countries, including the United States, Canada and Germany, to see the crucifixion. “It’s less horrible than people think. They think it will be very ugly or very disgusting but it is not. It was done with respect.

Earlier, Gareth said the tourists were “really inspired and I think they came away with a new respect for people’s faith.”


Associated Press reporters Aaron Favilla and Cecilia Forbes contributed to this report.

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