Filipino Catholics Mark Holy Week with Extreme Traditions Despite Pandemic

In the Philippines, followers of Catholicism have observed Holy Week, a period of eight days leading up to Easter Sunday, by reviving several longstanding and agonizing traditions. Despite the COVID-19 pandemic, devout Catholics in the Philippines have marked Good Friday with a re-enactment of the crucifixion of Jesus Christ in San Fernando City, north of the capital Manila, for the first time in three years. The crucifixion ritual has been a tradition in the province of Pampanga for decades, attracting huge crowds from around the world each year during Holy Week, despite being frowned upon by church leaders.[0]

As many as thousands of individuals witnessed the nailing of eight fervent followers, consisting of seven males and one female, to wooden crosses on Friday.[0] In the conviction that excruciating agony serves as a means of repenting for their transgressions, receiving miraculous healing for ailments, or expressing gratitude to the divine, devotees partake in the re-enactment.[0] There were individuals who chose to be crucified by having nails driven into their hands and feet, in a brutal re-enactment of the crucifixion of Jesus Christ.[1] In the streets, bamboo whips were used by some to perform self-flagellation.[1] Even though these practices are carried out as a form of atonement, the Catholic Church has expressed its objection towards the excessively rigorous approaches.

The Philippine village of San Pedro Cutud, north of Manila, also recreated its famous crucifixions for Good Friday, in which penitents carry crosses and are nailed to them, after three years of cancellations due to the Covid-19 pandemic. A Good Friday tradition saw at least 12 Filipinos getting nailed to crosses in the Philippines as they reenacted Jesus Christ’s suffering for the first time in three years due to the Covid-19 pandemic, with the spectacle expected to draw hundreds of devotees and tourists.

Although the Catholic Church rejects such traditions, some villages in the Philippines celebrate Holy Week by performing brutal acts such as flagellating and crucifying individuals, while others prefer visiting churches and participating in processions. The Catholic Church in the Philippines has called for an end to these practices, saying that they distort the true meaning of Holy Week and promote a culture of violence.

Despite this, some devotees continue to participate in these extreme rituals, believing that they offer a way to connect with God and atone for their sins. The Philippines is a predominantly Catholic country, with more than 80% of the population identifying as Catholic. Holy Week is a significant event in the country’s calendar, with many businesses and schools closing to mark the occasion. While the Covid-19 pandemic has disrupted many traditional celebrations, it has not dampened the devotion of Filipino Catholics, who continue to mark the occasion with prayer, fasting, and religious rituals.

0. “Philippines reenact crucifixion on Good Friday” Arizona Daily Star, 7 Apr. 2023,

1. “Mock crucifixions, self-flagellation mark run-up to Easter Sunday in the Philippines” South China Morning Post, 7 Apr. 2023,

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