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Philippines' Catholic devotees nailed to crosses to re-enact crucifixion

CUTUD — Catholic devotees were nailed to crosses in sweltering heat north of the Philippines capital Manila on Good Friday in a re-enactment of Jesus Christ's crucifixion.

Around 20,000 Filipino and foreign tourists flocked to San Pedro Cutud village in Pampanga province to witness this annual display of devotion, which the Roman Catholic Church in the Philippines frowns upon.

Actors dressed as Roman soldiers whipped devotees carrying crosses and hammered three-inch nails through the hands and feet of three people led by Ruben Enaje, 63, who was crucified for the 35th time.

"While I was walking, all I was thinking about was how Jesus felt while he was carrying his cross up until he was crucified," Enaje told reporters. "I can't tell for how long I can do this since my body is also getting old."

Seven more Filipinos were nailed to crosses in other villages in Pampanga.

The crucifixions were the most extreme display of faith in the Philippines, where about 80 per cent of its more than 110 million people identify as Roman Catholics.

Christians believe Jesus died on the cross to pay for the sins of humanity and rose from the grave three days later.

During Holy Week, some devotees flagellate themselves with bamboo whips, an act they believe to be penance that will wash away their sins, cure illness and lead to blessings.

The Catholic Church disapproves of such actions, saying that prayers and sincere repentance are enough to commemorate Lent.

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