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17 crucified in Philippines in Good Friday re-enactment

A Filipino penitent wears crown barb wire during Good Friday rituals atone for his sins municipality Paombong Bulacan province northern

A Filipino penitent wears a crown of barb wire during Good Friday rituals to atone for his sins at the municipality of Paombong, Bulacan province, northern Philippines, Friday, April 6, 2012. Several Filipino devotees had themselves nailed to crosses Friday to remember Jesus Christ's suffering and death, an annual rite rejected by church leaders in this predominantly Roman Catholic country.(AP Photo/Aaron Favila)

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Updated: April 6, 2012 6:58AM

SAN PEDRO CUTUD, Philippines — Thousands have gathered in the Philippines to witness devotees nailed to crosses as they mark Good Friday by re-enacting Jesus Christ’s suffering. The yearly rites continue even as Roman Catholic church leaders discourage the practice.

Nine men were crucified for a few minutes in Pampanga province’s San Pedro Cutud village, while at least eight others were crucified in neighboring villages.

Many take part to atone for sins, pray for the sick or a better life or give thanks for what they believe were miracles.

Friday’s crucifixion was the 26th for Ruben Enaje, a 51-year-old sign painter. He began his yearly rite after surviving a fall from a building.

The spectacle a unique brand of Catholicism that merges church traditions with Philippine folk superstitions.

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