Ruben Enaje is a Philippine man who has been nailed to a cross every Easter for the past 32 years in a Good Friday re-enactment of Jesus Christ’s crucifixion who says he no longer feels any pain from his wounds.
The 58 year old actor again portrayed Christ on Friday in the traditional religious rite in Cutud village, about 76 km (47 miles) from the capital Manila. “In the past, I went home injured and limping, but this year I feel so great,” Enaje said after the ritual held under a scorching sun.
He said he believed his strong Catholic faith helped him avoid pain. “I feel like he is telling me ‘go ahead, keep it up’,” he said, referring to God. Easter is a festival marking the crucifixion and resurrection of Christ.
About 80 percent of the 105 million people in the Philippines, a former Spanish colony, are Catholic. Enaje said he felt strong enough to perform in two or three more crucifixions, until he turns 60. Enaje was among three devotees nailed to wooden crosses in the village on Friday, including a woman taking part for the seventh time.
Actors wearing Roman soldier costumes attached the devotees to crosses by hammering two-inch nails soaked in alcohol through their hands and feet and hoisted them up in a field packed with domestic and foreign tourists.
The Catholic Church in the Philippines tolerates the ritual but says it does not support such gory displays of devotion, describing them as a “misinterpretation of faith”. Many Catholics in the Philippines perform religious acts of penance during the Holy Week at Easter as a form of worship and supplication. Some believe penance cleanses sins, cures illnesses and even leads to wishes coming true.