At least 17 men were nailed to crosses to mark Good Friday in front of thousands in Philippine villages today. Under the watch of villagers posing as Roman centurions, the men were crucified for a few minutes as part of a religious reenactment that occurs yearly, the AP reports. Those enduring the crucifixions aim to give thanks, atone for sins, or pray. After his 26th time on the cross, "I feel good because my suffering has ended," said one man.
But Filipino church leaders are opposed to the practice, in which shirtless men first trudge miles hitting their backs with sticks; some had cuts made on their backs to maintain a bloody appearance. "We do not judge and condemn, but we discourage" the ritual, says an archbishop. Adds another leader: "The church's position is there's no need to go through this physical and literal pain on the body because Christ already did that for us."