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Where were you on Good Friday 10 April? Well I was here. This deserves an E mail all to itself.

Philippines: Easter crucifixion rituals of Cutud

The Good Friday crucifixion rituals in the villages north of the Philippine capital Manila attract curious tourists every year. Tourists look on and snap pictures as half naked penitents wonder around flagellating themselves with bamboo sticks or paddles tipped with broken glass.

In the village of San Pedro Cutud eleven penitents were nailed to calvary-sized crosses on Good Friday. And I actually do mean nailed. Seven inch nails driven into the hands and feet with the aid of a hammer.

Although Catholic authorities frown on the Cutud spectacle, the practice of flagellantism and other forms of self-inflicted pain has a long history in the church. It was particularly prevalent in Perugia in the mid-13th century. It wasn't unusual for processions of thousands to flock through the streets, bearing crosses and scourging themselves.

Opus Dei, a traditionalist Catholic organization with about 85,000 members has encouraged mortification as a method for increasing devotion and dedication. Practices followed by some members have included the use of the "cilice" - a spiked chain worn around the upper thigh for two hours each day. Opus Dei members have also been known to use a scourge to whip the back and buttocks.

Opus Dei was founded by a Catholic priest named Josemaria Escrivá. His maxim on suffering was "Loved be pain. Sanctified be pain. Glorified be pain!" You could be forgiven for thinking that this might be a quotation by the Marquis de Sade. Mortification taken to extremes can take on the appearance of masochism, or possibly sadism - depending on your point-of-view. On one occasion Escrivá flailed himself over a thousand times.

The Good Friday crucifixion ritual in Cutud, isn't really such an anomaly when you consider it in the context of the mortifications undertaken by the faithful throughout the history of the Church.

Tags: San Pedro Cutud, Easter crucifixion rituals, Josemaria Escriva, flagellation, Catholic penitents, flagellation in Cutud, Philippine crucifixions, Manila, Philippine penitents and crucifixions

Well I went from Banaue to San Jose and then Lapaz by coach, to Tarlac City by Jeepney, to Dau by coach and finally to Angeles by motor tricycle. So it was another hectic day travelling. At Lapaz there was already the Flagellation Ceremony and Cross Bearing, so they were getting ready for the big one. And some floats were out at Mabalacat. By the way I said in my book that I thought that Pattaya was the most soulless place, but I think Angeles, the sex capital of the Philippines has taken that title.

The guys concerned were only on the crosses a few minutes, and the Roman 'executioners' were very careful not to cause too much damage. Then they were taken away for treatment in the medical tents nearby. It was certainly not as bloody or as gruesome as the Vegetarian Festival in Phuket. What I didn't like were the chicks dyed in bright colours and stuck in cages in the hot sun. What the purpose was I'm not too sure. Actually quite a few people went down with heat stroke - more debilitating than the crucifixions.

Anyway I got some good pictures and videos - ideal for a bit of light entertainment - holiday snaps. Still hope you all enjoyed your Easter break.



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