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RITUAL Extreme atonement in Philippines

Issued: 2018-03-30

By Nic White For Mailonline and Afp

Published: 06:20 EDT, 30 March 2018 | Updated: 21:06 EDT, 30 March 2018

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Filipino Catholics reenacted the crucifixion of Jesus after many of them marched through the streets whipping themselves and lacerating their backs with razorblades.

Gruesome footage from across the Southeast Asian country showed masked devotees performing the acts of self-inflicted pain to mark the Holy Week in a bloody religious ritual to atone for their sins.

Though frowned upon by the Church, the gruesome re-enactments of Christ's final moments draw thousands of believers - and tourists - in a carnival-like atmosphere that is big business for locals.

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A procession makes its way through Sorrento, Italy, on Good Friday as Easter celebrations sweep the country

A member of the procession which wound its way through Sorrento, Italy, on Good Friday carries a cross over his left shoulder

A procession makes its way through Sorrento, Italy, on Good Friday as Easter celebrations sweep the country. Members hold candles aloft as they make the solemn journey

A procession makes its way through Sorrento, Italy, on Good Friday as Easter celebrations sweep the country. Members hold candles aloft as they make the solemn journey

Penitents from the Good Dead Christ brotherhood take part in a procession in Zamora, Spain, in the early hours of March 27

Penitents from the Good Dead Christ brotherhood take part in a procession in Zamora, Spain, in the early hours of March 27

Penitents from the Good Dead Christ brotherhood take part in a procession in Zamora, Spain, in the early hours of March 27

Penitents from the Good Dead Christ brotherhood take part in a procession in Zamora, Spain, in the early hours of March 27

Penitents from the Good Dead Christ brotherhood take part in a procession in Zamora, Spain, in the early hours of March 27. One member holds a statue of Jesus above his head

Using bamboo whips, penitents from around the province of Pampanga in the Philippines self-flagellate until their skin breaks and blood pours out

Filipino Catholics reenacted the crucifixion of Jesus, nailing themselves to crosses for several minutes to show their extreme devotion

Eight people had 8cm spikes driven through their palms and feet in hot, dry fields meant to echo the site where Christ was crucified some 2,000 years ago, while actors dressed as Roman soldiers completed the picture

Among an otherwise male field of penitents was 39-year-old Mary Jane Sazon, who made her seventh trip up onto the cross

Filipino penitent Ruben Enaje is nailed to a wooden cross for the 32nd year on Good Friday in San Pedro Cutud village, San Fernando, Pampanga, north of Manila

While the ordeal is undeniably painful, the penitents' weight rests on a wooden step and they spend only a few moments nailed to the cross before being carried to the medical tent for treatment

The devotees are lifted up after being nailed to their crosses, just as Roman soldiers would have done to Jesus

Bloodied worshipers kneel in front of the crosses used to crucify several of them in extreme atonement

In a collection of towns located north of Manila, eight people had 8cm spikes driven through their palms and feet in hot, dry fields meant to echo the site where Christ was crucified some 2,000 years ago.

Among an otherwise male field of penitents was 39-year-old Mary Jane Sazon, who made her seventh trip up onto the cross.

'Fulfilling my vow is important to me because ever since I started this the Lord answers my prayers,' Sazon told reporters as she pushed her dark hair back with freshly bandaged hands.

She would not be drawn on being the only woman crucified on Friday, saying 'I don't care what other people might say.'

They earlier marched through the streets whipping themselves in a bloody religious ritual to atone for their sins

Gruesome footage from the sleepy town of Pakil, about 70km east of Manila, shows masked devotees performing the acts of self-inflicted pain to mark the Holy Week

Hugas Dugo flagellants gathers in town plaza and start whipping themselves. The town plaza is the first station where their backs will get cut with a razor blade

The gory scenes are traditional in small towns of the primarily Catholic nation before Easter

Penitents performing self-flagellation to atone for their sins, lie on the ground to pray inside a Catholic church during Maundy Thursday Lenten rites in Manila

Scores of bare-chested men, some of whose faces were concealed by hoods, lashed their backs bloody, as they walked through the streets before selfie-snapping onlookers

The swinging of their whips left droplets of blood on cars, houses and even bottles of soda displayed on snack vendors' tables that lined the road

While the ordeal is undeniably painful, the penitents' weight rests on a wooden step and they spend only a few moments nailed to the cross before being carried to the medical tent for treatment.

At the same time, scores of bare-chested men, some of whose faces were concealed by hoods, lashed their backs bloody, as they walked through the streets before selfie-snapping onlookers.

The swinging of their whips left droplets of blood on cars, houses and even bottles of soda displayed on snack vendors' tables that lined the road.

They struck their backs with wooden rods, one for each station of the cross as depicted in Catholic tradition of Jesus' walk to the hill of Golgotha where he was crucified.

'If one of my family members gets sick, this is what we do,' said Norman Lapuot, 25, as he flogged himself with a bamboo-tipped whip. 'I do this for my relatives.'

Though a majority of the Philippines' 80 million Catholics spend Good Friday at church or with family, participants undergo the ordeal to atone for sins or to seek divine intervention

In addition to whipping themselves, extreme Catholics cut themselves with razor blades to bleed as Jesus did

A man carries a cross while mocked up with fake blood in a reenactment of the Passion of Christ in Lagos, Nigeria

The man falls down illustrating one of the stages of the cross where Jesus collapsed as he struggled to carry the load

Men dressed as Roman soldiers carrying whips marched with the actor playing Jesus as they did on his fateful journey

In a modern twist the actor was splashed with water from a plastic bottle as he lay on the ground

The gory scenes are traditional in small towns of the primarily Catholic nation before Easter as a form of worship believed to cleanse sins, cure illness, and grant wishes.

'If one of my family members gets sick, this is what we do,' said Norman Lapuot, 25, as he flogged himself with a bamboo-tipped whip. 'I do this for my relatives.'

Mr Lapuot, who said it was his fourth time taking part in the ceremony, added that he believed the ritual bloodletting had helped his grandfather recover from a stroke.

Though a majority of the Philippines' 80 million Catholics spend Good Friday at church or with family, participants undergo the ordeal to atone for sins or to seek divine intervention.

A flagellant in the Philippines has his back cut dozens of times with a razor blade to cause pain like what Jesus suffered in his execution

Devotees cut each other's backs after tearing away a section of their shirts which will soon be covered in blood

The extreme form of worship is believed to cleanse sins, cure illness, and grant wishes

Flagellants meet at the bottom of Rizal bridge in the town of Pakil. They would dress themselves with dried banana leaves for aesthetic purpose and to catch dripping blood from their back

The gruesome sights left some of the roughly 12,000 in attendance wide-eyed and wincing with vicarious pain

The mock crucifixions and other self-punishments on Good Friday have been going on for decades despite official disapproval from the nation's dominant Catholic Church

Food stalls, cab drivers and even souvenir stands get a boost from the event which draws thousands of visitors every year

Nearly 80 percent of people in the Philippines are Catholic, a legacy of the nation's 300 years of Spanish colonial rule that ended at the turn of the 20th century

A man has his arm cut with a razor blade, causing blood to gush down his arm and all over his torso

He then took a knife to his own blood-soaked leg to put the pain all over his body in self-punishment

The gruesome sights left some of the roughly 12,000 in attendance wide-eyed and wincing with vicarious pain.

'The most terrifying was the feet part, when the guy was screaming very loud,' 28-year-old Juliette Pawinska, said, referring to when the spikes were driven in during one crucifixion.

'I actually felt the pain that he felt,' added the Polish national, who lives in the Philippines and works as a computer programmer.

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