Bizarre Holy Week Tradition: Crucifixion in Pampan

About 2,000 years have passed since the death of Jesus Christ on the cross and crucifixion is still being practiced in Pampanga. Supervised by the government, the villages of San Pedro Cutud, Sta. Lucia, and San Juan observe the Lenten tradition with ceremonial flagellations and the nailing of the cross watched by crowds of curious spectators. The reenactment of Jesus’ suffering is preceded by a “pabasa” and way of the cross recalling the Christ’s passion.

The practice of crucifixion might have originated in 1962 when Artemio Anoza, a faith-healer who agreed to be nailed on the cross. From then on, a growing crowd of penitents, about 500-600 “repentant” human beings parade the street, whipping themselves in atonement for their sins.

As a culmination of a Calvary-like imitation of Jesus, the people get to see about 10 to 15 people undergo nailing in Cutud. In addition Sta Lucia, and San Juan have 9 and 5 people respectively are put on the stake to be crucified. More than 70,000 to 80,000 spectators troop to these rituals.

“A man who paints houses and makes streamers for a living, Enaje will be nailed to the cross for the 23rd year. He took to the cross as a thanksgiving after he survived a fall from a three-story building in 1986.”—-Inquirer (04/07/09, Oreias, T)

Village leaders say the crucifixions are acts of repentance and expressions of thanks. For a special favor penitents fulfull their promises of being nailed on the tree on their own volition. Contrary to the allegations of others, people say the flagellants (Mandarame) don’t get crucified for a fee.

The crucifixion isn’t part of the Catholic religious observance that dates back in pagan times. The primitive practice is discouraged by the modern Catholic Church. Yet in Pampanga, it has been a compelling tradition.

A macabre source of tourist curiosity, this bloody observance of Jesus Christ’s death has drawn criticisms from various segments of society. The public complains this Lenten observance is primitively gruesome. Diluting the significance of the Holy Week, the crucifixion has lost it’s solemnity with the crowds. It has become commercialized.

To keep peace and order, about 200 police officers will be deployed on Good Friday. Local government officials regard the crucifixion as a tourist attraction from which part its income comes from. (Photo Credits: Caroline Butler; LA Times/ Mark Boster; Michel Detay x 2; Caroline Butler) =0=

========================================================

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s


%d bloggers like this: