Christianity, for better or worse, has travelled far and wide throughout the world, and one of the places it has reached is the Philippines. Adopted by the South-East Asian country due to their recognition of the One True God and in no way a tool of control inculcated by their Spanish overlords as a way of keeping the locals in line, Catholicism has flourished throughout the islands and is now the country’s primary religion.
People throughout the world have their various ways of demonstrating their devotion to whichever God they worship: some try to lead the best life possible and be kind to their fellow man, others donate to their local church, and yet others find disapproval of homosexuality in the random happenstance of extreme meteorological events.
There are also others who demonstrate their piety by whipping the flesh from their backs and allowing themselves to be nailed to pieces of wood. Some folk argue that this is a demonstration of one’s rededication to Christ by emulating the suffering he underwent, whilst others may dismiss it as ‘batshit insane’. Whatever the reason, it certainly makes for a bizarrely interesting sight for Godless foreigners come to gawp.
Here is the history of the Cutud Lenten Rites.
The Cutud Lenten Rites were to extreme Catholic Filipinos what Renaissance fairs are to unwashed, overly pompous American neckbeards. In the mid-fifties, amateur volunteers re-enacted the Passion of Christ and had themselves suspended from crosses in the fashion of their Lord and Saviour.
In 1962 a totally legitimate local religious leader decided to crank the Rites up to 11, and had himself no-Photoshop nailed to the cross through his palms. Onlookers took this as proof of the love of Christ/probably a good tourist draw, and from that year on actual crucifixions took place every Good Friday.
The modern practice
The event has been refined into what it is today, which is a re-enactment of Christ’s walk to Calvary. Along the way, several mentally well-adjusted people flog the skin from their backs and/or carry heavy wooden crosses in the fashion of Christ. At the culmination of the walk, the more hardcore cross-carrying penitents have themselves nailed up with five-inch nails that have been sterilised in alcohol (as was the tradition in Roman-occupied Judea; nobody wanted condemned criminals getting a nasty infection, after all).
Penitents/Christ fanboys are then left nailed to the crosses to reflect upon their sins and experience the full scope of Christ’s excruciation, that they may better know their lord. They are let down about five minutes later, which historical evidence suggests may have been slightly less time than the average condemned spent lashed to the cross.
The Catholic Church does not endorse the practice, given their rich and storied history of not wanting their followers to suffer, but this doesn’t stop it from happening every Good Friday.