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In Mexico, donning chains to recall Christ’s pain on the cross

For more than a century, the 'engrillados' have shackled themselves on Good Friday.

Cacti surround a participant’s tattoo of the Virgin of Guadalupe during the Good Friday procession of the ‘Engrillados’ in Atlixco, Mexico.  RNS photo by Irving Cabrera Torres

Cacti surround a participant’s tattoo of the Virgin of Guadalupe during the Good Friday Procession of the Engrillados in Atlixco, Mexico. RNS photo by Irving Cabrera Torres

ATLIXCO, Mexico (RNS) — For more than a century in the central Mexican city of Atlixco, Catholics have donned chains and impaled themselves with thorns in observance of Good Friday.

It’s called the Procession of the Engrillados — the shackled — and aims to convey the pain Christ felt on the cross. Hooded participants walk for more than a mile under a hot sun, hydrating themselves only with the juice of a lemon. They are silent, but for the sound of their dragging chains on Atlixco’s narrow streets.

This year about 50 men took part in the procession. One was 32-year-old Marco Antonio Martinez, in his ninth year as an engrillado. “Participating has helped me to be a better person with my family,” he said.

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