Filipino Catholics observe Lent with gory rituals
Hundreds of barefoot Filipinos marched on roads, carrying heavy wooden crosses and whipping their backs until they bled on Thursday in an annual gory religious ritual as the mainly Catholic Philippines observed near the end of the Lenten season.
Many Filipino devotees perform religious penance during the week leading up to Easter Sunday as a form of worship and supplication, a practice discouraged by Catholic bishops, but widely believed by devotees to cleanse sins, cure illness and even grant wishes.
“I do this penance out of my free will because I believe that God will help relieve my sickness,” Corazon Cabigting, a domestic helper and the only woman in a group of about 50 men carrying wooden crosses on their backs.
Like the men, Cabigting wore a maroon robe and covered her face with a veil, held on her head by a crown of stainless wire, dragging a 30-kg (66-lb) wooden cross and stopping every 500 meters (546 yards) in makeshift roadside chapels.
Elderly women chant the passion of Jesus Christ at some of the chapels, while the penitents, with their hands tied to the cross, are beaten by sticks and hemp.
“Priests often tell us that we should not be doing this,” Melvin Pangilinan, an organizer of the annual Lenten ritual who carried cross in his younger days, told Reuters. “But, it has been our tradition for decades and we have to honor it.” [More]