In a gory, long-standing Good Friday ritual in the Philippines, a devotee was nailed to a cross as part of the reenactment of Jesus Christ’s death. It was this particular follower’s 30th time being crucified.
Ruben Enaje and “14 other men, some screaming in pain, were nailed to wooden crosses by actors dressed as Roman centurions” in rice-farming villages in the Pampanga province north of Manila, while “thousands of foreign and local tourists snapped pictures” of the re-enactment, according to The Associated Press.
Enaje said he dedicated his ordeal to peace in Belgium and other countries targeted by Islamic extremists, the news service reports.
In each of his 30 years being crucified, Enaje has had four-inch stainless steel nails have been hammered through the same spot in his palms and feet. When the cross is hoisted up, he said, the movement adds to the suffering.
“The only thing in my mind is that God went through worse,” Enaje said, according to the AP. It adds:
“The gory spectacle reflects the Philippines’ unique brand of Catholicism, which merges church traditions with folk superstitions. Many of the mostly impoverished penitents undergo the ritual to atone for sins, pray for the sick or for a better life, and to give thanks for what they believe were God-given miracles.
“Enaje, a 55-year-old sign painter, began the annual ordeal after he fell from a three-story building in 1985 and survived nearly unscathed.
“Asked what he was praying for this year, Enaje said he was saddened by the recent bombings at the Brussels airport and subway station and other attacks in the Middle East that hurt innocent people.
” ‘What are they fighting for?’ Enaje asked, referring to Islamic State group militants who have claimed responsibility for the Brussels attacks. ‘Even the innocent are not spared. They want to lord over the world but that can’t be allowed to happen.’ “
A short documentary, called “The 26th Crucifixion of Ruben Enaje,” captures the ritual.