Muted Good Friday ceremonies in the Philippines, devotees housebound

Bangkok, Apr 2 (efe-epa).- The traditional processions of penitence and re-enactments of the crucifixion of Jesus Christ that are usually celebrated with fervor on Good Friday in the Philippines have been canceled for the second year in a row by the Covid-19 pandemic, with a record of nearly 139,000 cases active throughout the country.

Manila and four neighboring provinces returned to a strict lockdown on Monday amid a rebound in cases.

The lockdown measures — which are in force in other parts of the Philippines although are less strict — stipulate that churches must close to avoid crowds. That did not stop some faithful from approaching churches to pray from outside, all the while wearing a mask and a face shield as is required by the regulations in the country.

In some neighborhoods of Manila, parish priests drove around the streets offering blessings at doorsteps. People living in lockdown areas can only leave their house for work or to buy essential goods like food and medicine.

The Philippines is home to roughly 90 million Catholics, more than any other country in Asia and third in terms of population behind only Brazil and Mexico.

Holy Week is one of the most important dates on the Christian calendar in the Philippines. Millions of people observe the tradition of visiting seven churches on Good Friday, something that has not been possible for the last two years due to Covid-19.

Traditionally, San Fernando de Pampanga, a city some 80 kilometers north of the capital, hosts ceremonies that involve flagellation and realistic re-enactments of crucifixion.

The crucifixion ceremonies, although not endorsed by the Church, arose in the 1950s and normally attract thousands of tourists each year. EFE-EPA


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