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Holy Act or Folk Superstition?

Updated on October 23, 2012

Nailed to Crosses...a tradition continues

A day had passed by for many Filipino people and foreign visitors in San Fernando city of Pampanga province, northern part of Manila, who bravely witness the grim custom that had been performed in humble penitence of sacrifice mirrored from Jesus Christ’s sufferings. The re-enactment of Christ’s suffering continued yearly by Filipino male penitents with the participation of one woman nailed to the cross this year. They believe that to sacrifice like Christ on the Cross will take away their sufferings and burdens in life. Penitents did self-whipping of sharp bamboo pieces while some had someone following behind, scraping wood deliberately ripping and bleeding their backs, bore painful markings as they walked barefoot from their villages to the crucifixion stand. Crowns of twigs were worn tightly around their heads and the role of Roman centurions by fellow villagers were prominent complete with costumes. The burden and wishes in their lives are deep as they openly describe them to people who would ask. They say that one way to amend, overcome and receive His graces is asking for Christ’s mercy through inflicting the same journey of suffering. To atone for their sins, they freely involve themselves to be nailed on crosses. Crucifixion of self-permitting Catholic devotees has become an attraction to tourists both foreign and local during the Holy Week season. A thick crowd of curious spectators of all ages gather closely to witness this event of cleansing one’s soul.

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Folk Superstition? "Crucifixion as a way to saving one's soul."

To be nailed on the cross has become a practice and in fact the number is growing. This year, more than two dozen Filipinos from a number of villages/towns in Pampanga had convinced themselves and their families that they undergo the pain of Jesus Christ on Good Friday. Nailing to the cross has been a belief in atonement of sins, to cure the very sick and protection of the family against sickness, to overcome years of burden due to poverty and a way to give thanks to the Lord for the miracles. Some say it had developed as a superstition, while some merely say it is self-want to serve its faithful purpose.

Those who had put themselves into this experience claimed of a peaceful and satisfactory change of feelings within them. “There is this feeling of lightness as if a huge boulder had been removed from my shoulder.” one man admits. “I feel fine, I’m okay.” a middle aged man claimed and walked away. They feel renewed at the end of their sufferings.

Catholic Church leaders discourage the act:

However, the Catholic Church has given out a statement to discourage such practice and that people should instead submit on repentance and confession of sins and focus on giving alms to the poor. But this did not stop the practice amongst the Filipino devotees. See links provided below on the statements addressed by the church.

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    • coffeegginmyrice profile image

      Marites Mabugat-Simbajon 5 years ago from Toronto, Ontario

      I agree with you. Thank you WD Curry 111!

    • WD Curry 111 profile image

      WD Curry 111 5 years ago from Space Coast

      This is a thought provoking hub. I don't know the answer, but I think people should express themselves to God and each other. It says somewhere, "Don't let that which is good to you be spoken of as evil."

      Where should we draw the line?