This Filipino villager was nailed to a cross for the 35th time on Good Friday

Philippine Christian devotee Ruben Enaje performs his 35th re-enactment of the crucifixion of Jesus Christ on Good Friday in San Fernando, Pampanga province on March 29, 2024. (Photo by JAM STA ROSA/AFP via Getty Images)

A Filipino villager participated in a unique Good Friday tradition by being nailed to a wooden cross for the 35th time. 

Ruben Enaje, a carpenter and sign painter, played the role of "Christ" in a reenactment of the Way of the Cross. He told the Associated Press he was dedicating the ritual to pray for peace in Ukraine, Gaza and the disputed South China Sea. 

The 63-year-old man was among 10 people nailed to wooden crosses as hundreds of spectators watched. 

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According to the AP, the real-life crucifixions resumed in 2023 after a three-year pause because of COVID-19. The annual religious performance attracts tourists in three rural communities in the Pampanga province, north of Manila.

Enaje told the AP in a phone interview Thursday that he has thought about stopping his involvement in the ritual because of his age but explained that he couldn’t turn down requests from villagers for him to pray for their sick family members. 

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During the reenactments, Enaje and other participants wear thorny crowns of twigs and carry heavy wooden crosses on their backs for over half a mile as other village actors dressed as Roman centurions hammer 4-inch stainless steel nails through their palms and feet as they place them upward on wooden crosses for 10 minutes as crowds pray and take pictures. 

Others walk barefoot through village streets and beat their bare backs with sharp bamboo sticks and pieces of wood.

According to the AP, this grisly exhibition reflects the Philippines’ unique brand of Catholicism, which combines church traditions with folk superstitions.

The Associated Press contributed to this report. This story was reported from Washington, D.C.