62-year-old nailed to a cross in brutal re-enactment of crucifixion

Jesus Christ: Experts discuss story of crucifixion

A 62-year-old fisherman from the Philippines was nailed to a cross in a gruesome re-enactment of the cruxifixction of Christ during a religious procession on Good Friday. The extraordinary event took place in San Juan village, north of the capital city Manila, and was watched by hundreds of locals and tourists. The procession was led by dozens of men walking barefoot through the narrow streets of the village and wearing crowns made of vines and cloth over their faces.

As they made their way along the streets, the men constantly flogged themselves with bamboo whips, causing blood to run down their backs and soak the top of their trousers.

Blood from their wounds spattered onlookers in the crowds, who were lined up in front of shops and houses, trying to get the best vantage points of the brutal Passion play.

Some of the men lay prostrate on the ground for a while, so they could be beaten with flip-flops and pieces of wood.

Further pain was inflicted with razor blades and wooden mallets embedded with small pieces of glass.

At the climax of the procession, three of the participants were led to a dirt mound by men dressed in the costumes of Roman Centurions.

Two were tied to wooden crosses, while the third man – Wilfredo Salvador – who was starring in the lead role of Jesus Christ – was literally nailed to the cross, promoting a frenzy of photographs from the spectators.

Mr Salvador, a fisherman by profession, remained nailed to the cross for several agonising moments before being released.

He was taken on a stretcher to a medical tent for a check-up before catching a tricycle taxi back home.

The 62-year-old told reporters: “He (God) gives me physical strength unlike others who cannot bear it.

“I do this by choice. I thank him (God) for giving me a second life.”

He also revealed that he had started taking part in the crucifixion 15 years ago after suffering a mental breakdown.

The religious spectacle has been performed for decades in villages around San Fernando City, but was postponed for the last three years due to the Covid pandemic.

It was inspired by a play about Jesus Christ written by a local playwright in the 1950s, leading to the first crucifixion in 1962.

The event is frowned upon by the Catholic Church, which views it as a dangerous aberration and urged believers to purify themselves of their sins by simply going to confession.

Father Jerome Secillano, executive secretary of the Catholic Bishops Conference of the Philippines’ public affairs committee, said: “It’s very clear that the crucifixion of Christ is more than enough to save humanity from sin.”

Local participants in the bloody re-enactment of Christ’s death, however, remain undeterred and determined to carry on the tradition.

Ruben Enaje, who has been nailed to the cross more than 30 times in the past, vowed he would be back again next year if he remained healthy.

“I feel good, my worries are gone and so are my fears,” Enaje, 62, told reporters, his hands and feet bandaged after playing the role of Jesus Christ in San Pedro village.

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The Passion spectacle remains a big attraction for tourists, who turned up in large number to witness the event.

Milan Dostal, 43, from the Czech Republic, said: “For me, it is an exceptional experience and chance to see such a cultural thing, which is unique in the world.

“I respect it, I’m very open-minded.”

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