Graphic images show Filipino Catholic devotees whipping themselves in Easter ritual

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Pictures show devotees being flogged and others whipping their own backs red raw. The participants defied a ban on gatherings for the Holy Week display.

There were less people taking part compared to recent years due to coronavirus restrictions.

Near a church in Manila’s Tondo area, about 10 devotees – who were wearing face masks – struck their backs with wooden whips.

Melvin Devibar, 25, said: “I prayed for my parents.

“I’m thankful they haven’t gotten sick.

“Even during this pandemic, I don’t believe we will be affected by Covid as long as we pray.”

Others tried to join the flagellation ritual at the church but were turned away by police.

Many Filipinos perform religious penance in the week leading to Easter in a bid to cleanse sins, cure illnesses and grant wishes.

But the Catholic Church, the dominant faith in the Philippines, has expressed disapproval of self-flagellation.

It says prayers and sincere repentance are enough to commemorate Lent.

The Philippines reported a daily record of 15,310 further Covid infections on Friday.

The new cases take the overall total to 771,497.

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In 2019, real crucifixions were staged in the Philippines on Good Friday.

One man was nailed to a cross, with up the 10 more ready to follow him, while others beat themselves with flails.

Wilfredo Salvador, the first volunteer to hang from the wooden cross, said: “I will not stop this for as long as I am alive, because this is what gives me life.”

The 62-year-old, a fisherman, has volunteered to be crucified for 14 years in a row since recovering from a nervous breakdown, AFP reported.

After his ordeal, he was treated and bandaged at a first aid tent before walking home.

The local tourism office told reporters nine other men and one woman had likewise volunteered to be nailed to wooden crosses in three other villages throughout the course of the day.

Earlier, hundreds of barefoot men wearing crowns of twigs and black shrouds walked along the side of a road in the searing heat, periodically flogging their backs with bamboo strips tied to lengths of rope.

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