Lenten Rites

On Good Friday, thousands of Filipino Christians engage in violent acts of penitence in a tradition which dates back to the 1950’s. Near the city of San Fernando, north of Manila, hundreds of men have their backs cut open and then parade through the streets whipping themselves in with wooden flails until their backs are completely blood soaked. The day takes on a bizarre festival atmosphere as children run around following the penitents and vendors sell sweets, souvenirs and pets to visitors who flock to see the annual spectacle.

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