For the last 54 years, people from all over the world have traveled to Cutud, a township in the Philippines, to be crucified. In 2009 alone, an Australian and 29 Filipinos were crucified in different parts of the Philippines in a dark and twisted Black Friday ritual that imitates the suffering and death of Jesus Christ.
These acts are not endorsed by the Catholic Church, but those who submit themselves to it hope for God’s favor or penance for sins committed.
While 25 others were crucified in Cutud, a town north of Manila, John Michael, a 33-year-old from Melbourne, Australia joined three local men and one woman who were nailed to a wooden cross just outside the capital.
The young Australian could be heard moaning loudly as the (freshly sterilized) nails were driven into his palms. Half naked, he wore a long wig and donned an improvised crown of thorns during his mock execution. As his body was hoisted skyward, a group of men dressed as Roman centurions stood round him, watching him hang from the cross for roughly five minutes.
Eventually, he was taken down, and the previously-in-character centurions rushed him to a medical tent for treatment of his wounds. Michael refused to say why he’d joined the ceremony, but a traveling companion of his merely said, “this is a personal thing for him.”
These “kristos” as the crucified persons are called, are fairly compelling; thousands of tourists flock to this area each Easter season to observe the self-inflicted torture. 48-year-old kristos leader Ruben Enaje endured his 23rd crucifixion in 2009. His reasoning behind the annual suffering? To keep a vow he made after escaping unharmed from a 3-story fall.
But it’s not just the “kristos” who suffer during this religious act. The kristos are joined by hundreds of “flaggelants,” hooded men who whip their own bloody backs with whips of bamboo and rope, as penance for sins.
Domingo Cunnanan, a flaggelant for 16 years reported, “I wanted to be crucified because I believe this will keep my family safe, with the help of God.” He added, “The pain of penitence is nothing compared with a year of grace given to my family by God.”
I’m afraid these “kristos” have never read Hebrews 10:10-14. It teaches:
And by that will, we have been made holy through the sacrifice of the body of Jesus Christ once for all. Day after day every priest stands and performs his religious duties; again and again he offers the same sacrifices, which can never take away sins. But when this priest had offered for all time one sacrifice for sins, he sat down at the right hand of God. Since that time he waits for his enemies to be made his footstool, because by one sacrifice he has made perfect forever those who are being made holy.
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(Resource cataloged by David R Smith)