Christian devotees in the Philippines – Asia’s lone Catholic-majority nation – reenacted Jesus Christ’s suffering and crucifixion during traditional Good Friday observances not officially sanctioned by the church but largely tolerated here.
In an extreme display of devotion to their savior, some Filipinos nailed themselves to the Cross, had their backs whipped or performed self-flagellation in public until they bled, to show they remembered how much Christ suffered as well as to atone for past sins.
Nearly 80 percent of the country’s population of more than 104 million are Roman Catholics, a legacy of 300 years of Spanish colonial rule that ended at the turn of the 20th century.
President Rodrigo Duterte, who has denounced the Catholic Church repeatedly during his time in office, wished his countrymen a solemn observance of Holy Week.
“This is a time to revitalize our faith and renew our relationship with God and our fellowman,” he said. “As we put our hands together in prayer, may we use this as an opportune time to rekindle our religious fervor and cherish our time-honored tradition as a pious people.”
On April 19, Filipinos marked Good Friday with extreme solemnity, as many do every year during Holy Week observances. Virtually all offices, shops and restaurants were closed and the usually traffic-choked streets of urban Manila resembled open parks, as city dwellers took advantage of the long holidays to return to their home provinces.
Others went on pilgrimages to different churches to pray, and follow the “Stations of the Cross,” or Christ’s journey from the Last Supper to his crucifixion and resurrection.
Caution: some of the images contained in these photographs and accompanying video taken by BenarNews are graphic.