In a gory annual tradition that resumed after a three-year pause due to the pandemic, eight Filipinos were nailed to crosses in the farming village of San Pedro Cutud to reenact Jesus Christ’s suffering on Good Friday. One of them, Ruben Enaje, a 62-year-old carpenter and sign painter, was crucified for the 34th time, praying for the end of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine and for the eradication of COVID-19.
The crucifixions drew thousands of spectators, including foreign tourists, who witnessed the penitents carrying heavy crosses and getting nailed to them by actors dressed as Roman centurions. The Philippines’ unique brand of Catholicism, which merges church traditions with folk superstitions, has made such practices deeply entrenched in the local religious culture.
However, some church leaders have criticized the bloody rites, calling for less painful ways to show religious devotion. Despite the controversy, the decadeslong crucifixion tradition has turned impoverished San Pedro Cutud into a popular tourist destination, with thousands gathering for the annual cross nailings.