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April 2, 2010

Your Turn: Philippine Woman Nailed to the Cross

Filipina nailed to cross.jpg

I was interested in your read on this photo circulating in several Easter slideshows this weekend. (Caption below.)

(photo: Jay Directo/Getty Images. caption: Filipina Roman Catholic Mary-Jane Mamangun is nailed to a cross as a re-enactment of the Crucifixion of Christ during Good Friday celebrations ahead of Easter in the village of San Juan, north of Manila, in The Philippines on April 2, 2010.)

  • Dittoheadache

    Seriously, was she really NAILED to the cross? I see nails. Is that just a trick, maybe something pasted to her palms or what? This photo cals for an explanation.

  • Jonathan

    Well, there aren’t copious streams of blood gushing! Still, pretty horror-movie.

  • Jason

    Something has to be said about how the crown of thorns is blocking the eyes. Possibly meaning follow me blindly.

  • Books Alive

    Photos of the woman without the crown of thorns are in the story reported at NPR. This is her 14th time to participate. The nails are real, but with the closeup views you see that those strips on arms and waist are holding the participants up rather well. This is a local tradition, not approved by the Catholic church.

  • Reece

    Despite my wife’s protestations as a loving and courageous Catholic, photos like this are why I hate the Easter time of year. The look of pain on this woman’s face makes me think of the indignation that religious folks seem to display when explaining the holiday. Isn’t good messaging supposed to require less explanation, not more?

  • childan


  • Serr8d

    Who’s she gonna save ?

  • cgd

    Primitive religious barbarism. Just imagine the fun if the Catholic church had roots in Aztec society…

  • DennisQ

    Bondage freaks will love this picture, but it’s far too modest. If she wore a sexy outfit instead of martial arts garb, the meaning would be clear. And I’ll say it – the wide-open mouth suggests a blow-up doll.
    Good Friday is at the opposite end of Lent from Ash Wednesday. The ashes remind the faithful that we are dust and we will return to dust. Good Friday is a reminder that living flesh is meat. Roman crucifixion was slow, painful, public and humiliating. The word excruciating derives from the Latin word for cross.
    This picture portrays a woman as meat. It doesn’t say so directly, but the connection between flesh and sexuality doesn’t need to be explicit.

  • g

    I’m not religious at all, but I have to differ with some of the comments here that characterize this as primitive or barbaric. Human beings create rituals about their religions all over the world, and have for centuries. The rituals are for story-telling and they are tied together throughout a theological year, light and dark, joyous and sorrowful. And they are usually simple and quite dramatic, derived from visual and theatrical story-telling for people who are not literate. I don’t know anything about this group, but I imagine their Lenten carnival celebration is a wild and colorful flip-side to this grim-seeming crucifixtion ritual. Certainly many other Catholic communities’ Carnival celebrations do – like Mardi Gras, Venetian Carnavale, Carnivals in the West Indies.

  • janinsanfran

    Apparently propriety in the tradition she comes from requires that a woman nailed to the cross be clothed. Why?

  • thomas

    Well, I’m impressed. I don’t even have the nerve to get a tattoo. Nothing like doing something for real to make it real.

  • Maeve

    I love that she’s wearing pearl earrings, its a nice touch for a crucifixion.

  • DennisQ

    The earrings match the nail heads. Très chic.

  • Raja

    I wouldn’t read too much into the sex of the person being crucified. Men do this, too.

  • tinwoman

    Some of the comments here ask if it can be real….apparently some people do this repeatedly, every year, yes the nails are real and are pounded through the hands. But it seems the participants are in some kind of heightened mental state in which they experience little bleeding and a sense of euphoria, not pain. The wounds heal quickly and cleanly afterwards. Don’t ask me to explain it medically, I can’t. But it’s been common practice in some Catholic areas for years and the phenomenom is well known. It appears to be something along the lines of feats like the Indian “bed of nails” or walking over hot coals.

  • Dittoheadache

    A technical note. Actually, I have read that the Romans would probably not have nailed the hands, as the weight of the body would rip through the hands. More likely, they nailed through the wrists. Better bone and tendon support.

  • Dittoheadache

    ONe more note: We have an Easter Parade Tradition here in East Los Angeles. They drive Jesus around in a pickup truck. He’s shouldering a cross, and the Roman soldiers, also in the bed of the pickup lash him on his journey around the neighborhood.

  • Batocchio

    Yikes. Real nails? As Dittoheadache already covered, Roman crucifixion would use nails through the wrists or forearms, and no ties for support. But it was also death due to asphyxiation and exposure, and their intent was to kill someone painfully, not to suffer for a religious festival.

  • gulati

    For some reason, this tradition reminds me of the Pamplona Running of the Bulls.

  • Retief

    It reminds me of the Thaipusan festival. Or those cheek piercings they do in Thailand and Malaysia. Much like Christmas trees, this looks like a folk tradition with the patina of Christianity.

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