Christians worldwide mark Good Friday with masses, rituals
Thousands watch crucifixions in Philippines, Orthodox Greeks return to Turkish Cyprus
Christians around the world commemorated the crucifixion of Jesus Christ during masses, celebrations and rituals on Good Friday. These are a few of the most notable so far.
Crucifixions in Philippines
Devotees in northern Philippine villages had themselves nailed to wooded crosses to re-enact the crucifixion of Jesus Christ as thousands of local and foreign spectators watched the bloody annual rites.
Church leaders and health officials have spoken against the practice, which mixes Roman Catholic devotion with folk belief, but the annual rites continue to draw participants and huge crowds, particularly in northern Pampanga province.
Sign painter Ruben Enaje, 53, had himself nailed to a cross at a dusty mound in Pampanga's San Pedro Cutud village for the 28th year. He began his yearly rite after surviving a fall from a building. Men dressed as Roman soldiers hammered stainless steel nails into his palms and feet, as a crowd of onlookers stood with cameras ready to capture his and other penitents' agony.
Lasse Spang Olsen, a 48-year-old filmmaker from Denmark, also had himself nailed to a cross, joining Enaje and eight other Filipino devotees. He grimaced in pain as nails pierced his hands and feet.
Olsen said he made a film two years ago about Enaje's yearly crucifixion and decided to have himself crucified after falling sick twice. He had a small camera attached to his cross while a colleague filmed his experience.
"It's a personal matter between me and God," he said, with his finger pointing up. After being helped down from the cross, he said of his experience: "Fantastic, you should try it."
Greek Orthodox pilgrims in Cyprus
Hundreds of Greek Orthodox pilgrims, some coming home after 40 years of forced exile, commemorated the crucifixion of Jesus in a rare Good Friday service in northern Cyprus.
Held in a medieval walled city in the Turkish part of the divided island, the ceremony at the 14th-century St. George Extorinos church was the idea of local authorities who invited the faithful from the Greek part of the island to visit.
The traditional procession of an icon of Jesus, which would normally be openly paraded through the streets of a Greek neighbourhood, was limited to the church grounds for security reasons and guarded by a strong police presence.
"This is one of the happiest days of my life," said Anna Marangou, a Greek Cypriot archaeologist and historian who lived in Famagusta until her family was forced to flee in 1974.
"This is a grassroots movement with significance to people and what we are capable of achieving."
Some 45,000 Greek Cypriots fled Famagusta in the 1974 fighting, a conflict that uprooted tens of thousands from both communities across the island.
Greek Cypriots and Turkish Cypriots now live separated by a United Nations-controlled buffer zone. Virtually unhindered crossing from one side to the other started only a decade ago.
With files from Reuters