Crucifixion

Crucifixion

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Crucifixion is an ancient method of painful execution
Capital punishment
Capital punishment, the death penalty, or execution is the sentence of death upon a person by the state as a punishment for an offence. Crimes that can result in a death penalty are known as capital crimes or capital offences. The term capital originates from the Latin capitalis, literally...

 in which the condemned person is tied or nailed to a large wooden cross
Cross
A cross is a geometrical figure consisting of two lines or bars perpendicular to each other, dividing one or two of the lines in half. The lines usually run vertically and horizontally; if they run obliquely, the design is technically termed a saltire, although the arms of a saltire need not meet...

 and left to hang until dead. The term comes from the Latin
Latin
Latin is an Italic language originally spoken in Latium and Ancient Rome. It, along with most European languages, is a descendant of the ancient Proto-Indo-European language. Although it is considered a dead language, a number of scholars and members of the Christian clergy speak it fluently, and...

 crucifixio ("fixing to a cross", from the prefix cruci-, from crux ("cross"), + verb figere, "fix or bind fast").

Crucifixion was in use at a comparatively high rate among the Seleucids
Seleucid Empire
The Seleucid Empire was a Greek-Macedonian state that was created out of the eastern conquests of Alexander the Great. At the height of its power, it included central Anatolia, the Levant, Mesopotamia, Persia, today's Turkmenistan, Pamir and parts of Pakistan.The Seleucid Empire was a major centre...

, Carthaginians
Carthage
Carthage , implying it was a 'new Tyre') is a major urban centre that has existed for nearly 3,000 years on the Gulf of Tunis, developing from a Phoenician colony of the 1st millennium BC...

, and Romans
Ancient Rome
Ancient Rome was a thriving civilization that grew on the Italian Peninsula as early as the 8th century BC. Located along the Mediterranean Sea and centered on the city of Rome, it expanded to one of the largest empires in the ancient world....

 from about the 6th century BC to the 4th century AD. In the year 337, Emperor Constantine I
Constantine I
Constantine the Great , also known as Constantine I or Saint Constantine, was Roman Emperor from 306 to 337. Well known for being the first Roman emperor to convert to Christianity, Constantine and co-Emperor Licinius issued the Edict of Milan in 313, which proclaimed religious tolerance of all...

 abolished it in the Roman Empire out of veneration for Jesus Christ, the most famous victim of crucifixion. It was also used as a form of execution in Japan for criminals, inflicted also on some Christians.

A crucifix
Crucifix
A crucifix is an independent image of Jesus on the cross with a representation of Jesus' body, referred to in English as the corpus , as distinct from a cross with no body....

 (an image of Christ crucified on a cross) is the main religious symbol for Catholics, Eastern Orthodox
Eastern Orthodox Church
The Orthodox Church, officially called the Orthodox Catholic Church and commonly referred to as the Eastern Orthodox Church, is the second largest Christian denomination in the world, with an estimated 300 million adherents mainly in the countries of Belarus, Bulgaria, Cyprus, Georgia, Greece,...

 and Oriental Orthodox
Oriental Orthodoxy
Oriental Orthodoxy is the faith of those Eastern Christian Churches that recognize only three ecumenical councils — the First Council of Nicaea, the First Council of Constantinople and the First Council of Ephesus. They rejected the dogmatic definitions of the Council of Chalcedon...

, but most Protestant
Protestantism
Protestantism is one of the three major groupings within Christianity. It is a movement that began in Germany in the early 16th century as a reaction against medieval Roman Catholic doctrines and practices, especially in regards to salvation, justification, and ecclesiology.The doctrines of the...

 Christians prefer to use a cross
Christian cross
The Christian cross, seen as a representation of the instrument of the crucifixion of Jesus Christ, is the best-known religious symbol of Christianity...

 without the figure (the "corpus": Latin
Latin
Latin is an Italic language originally spoken in Latium and Ancient Rome. It, along with most European languages, is a descendant of the ancient Proto-Indo-European language. Although it is considered a dead language, a number of scholars and members of the Christian clergy speak it fluently, and...

 for "body") of Christ. Most crucifixes portray Jesus on a Latin cross, rather than any other shape, such as a Tau cross or a Greek cross. The term crucifix derives from the Latin
Latin
Latin is an Italic language originally spoken in Latium and Ancient Rome. It, along with most European languages, is a descendant of the ancient Proto-Indo-European language. Although it is considered a dead language, a number of scholars and members of the Christian clergy speak it fluently, and...

 crucifixus or cruci fixus, past participle passive of crucifigere or cruci figere, meaning "to crucify" or "to fix to a cross".

Details


Crucifixion was often performed to terrorize and dissuade its witnesses from perpetrating particularly heinous crimes. Victims were left on display after death as warnings to others who might attempt dissent. Crucifixion was usually intended to provide a death that was particularly slow, painful (hence the term excruciating, literally "out of crucifying"), gruesome, humiliating, and public, using whatever means were most expedient for that goal. Crucifixion methods varied considerably with location and time period.

The Greek and Latin words corresponding to "crucifixion" applied to many different forms of painful execution, from impaling on a stake
Impalement
Impalement is the traumatic penetration of an organism by an elongated foreign object such as a stake, pole, or spear, and this usually implies complete perforation of the central mass of the impaled body...

 to affixing to a tree, to an upright pole (a crux simplex) or to a combination of an upright (in Latin, stipes) and a crossbeam (in Latin, patibulum).

In some cases, the condemned was forced to carry the crossbeam on his shoulders to the place of execution. A whole cross would weigh well over 300 pounds (135 kilograms), but the crossbeam would not be quite as burdensome, weighing around 75–125 pounds (35–60 kilograms). The Roman historian Tacitus
Tacitus
Publius Cornelius Tacitus was a senator and a historian of the Roman Empire. The surviving portions of his two major works—the Annals and the Histories—examine the reigns of the Roman Emperors Tiberius, Claudius, Nero and those who reigned in the Year of the Four Emperors...

 records that the city of Rome had a specific place for carrying out executions, situated outside the Esquiline Gate, and had a specific area reserved for the execution of slaves by crucifixion. Upright posts would presumably be fixed permanently in that place, and the crossbeam, with the condemned person perhaps already nailed to it, would then be attached to the post.

The person executed may have been attached to the cross by rope, though nails are mentioned in a passage by the Judean historian Josephus
Josephus
Titus Flavius Josephus , also called Joseph ben Matityahu , was a 1st-century Romano-Jewish historian and hagiographer of priestly and royal ancestry who recorded Jewish history, with special emphasis on the 1st century AD and the First Jewish–Roman War, which resulted in the Destruction of...

, where he states that at the Siege of Jerusalem (70)
Siege of Jerusalem (70)
The Siege of Jerusalem in the year 70 AD was the decisive event of the First Jewish-Roman War. The Roman army, led by the future Emperor Titus, with Tiberius Julius Alexander as his second-in-command, besieged and conquered the city of Jerusalem, which had been occupied by its Jewish defenders in...

, "the soldiers out of rage and hatred, nailed those they caught, one after one way, and another after another, to the crosses, by way of jest." Objects used in the crucifixion of criminals, such as nails, were sought as amulets with perceived medicinal qualities.

While a crucifixion was an execution, it was also a humiliation, by making the condemned as vulnerable as possible. Although artists have depicted the figure on a cross with a loin cloth or a covering of the genitals, writings by Seneca the Younger
Seneca the Younger
Lucius Annaeus Seneca was a Roman Stoic philosopher, statesman, dramatist, and in one work humorist, of the Silver Age of Latin literature. He was tutor and later advisor to emperor Nero...

 suggest that victims were crucified completely nude. When the victim had to urinate or defecate, they had to do so in the open, in view of passers-by, resulting in discomfort and the attraction of insects. Despite its frequent use by the Romans, the horrors of crucifixion did not escape mention by some of their eminent orators. Cicero
Cicero
Marcus Tullius Cicero , was a Roman philosopher, statesman, lawyer, political theorist, and Roman constitutionalist. He came from a wealthy municipal family of the equestrian order, and is widely considered one of Rome's greatest orators and prose stylists.He introduced the Romans to the chief...

 for example, in a speech that appears to have been an early bid for its abolition, described crucifixion as "a most cruel and disgusting punishment", and suggested that "the very mention of the cross should be far removed not only from a Roman citizen’s body, but from his mind, his eyes, his ears."

Frequently, the legs of the person executed were broken or shattered with an iron club, an act called crurifragium, which was also frequently applied without crucifixion to slaves. This act hastened the death of the person but was also meant to deter those who observed the crucifixion from committing offenses.

Cross shape


The gibbet
Gibbet
A gibbet is a gallows-type structure from which the dead bodies of executed criminals were hung on public display to deter other existing or potential criminals. In earlier times, up to the late 17th century, live gibbeting also took place, in which the criminal was placed alive in a metal cage...

 on which crucifixion was carried out could be of many shapes. Josephus
Josephus
Titus Flavius Josephus , also called Joseph ben Matityahu , was a 1st-century Romano-Jewish historian and hagiographer of priestly and royal ancestry who recorded Jewish history, with special emphasis on the 1st century AD and the First Jewish–Roman War, which resulted in the Destruction of...

 describes multiple tortures and positions of crucifixion during the Siege of Jerusalem
Siege of Jerusalem (70)
The Siege of Jerusalem in the year 70 AD was the decisive event of the First Jewish-Roman War. The Roman army, led by the future Emperor Titus, with Tiberius Julius Alexander as his second-in-command, besieged and conquered the city of Jerusalem, which had been occupied by its Jewish defenders in...

 as Titus
Titus
Titus , was Roman Emperor from 79 to 81. A member of the Flavian dynasty, Titus succeeded his father Vespasian upon his death, thus becoming the first Roman Emperor to come to the throne after his own father....

 crucified the rebels; and Seneca the Younger
Seneca the Younger
Lucius Annaeus Seneca was a Roman Stoic philosopher, statesman, dramatist, and in one work humorist, of the Silver Age of Latin literature. He was tutor and later advisor to emperor Nero...

 recounts: "I see crosses there, not just of one kind but made in many different ways: some have their victims with head down to the ground; some impale
Impalement
Impalement is the traumatic penetration of an organism by an elongated foreign object such as a stake, pole, or spear, and this usually implies complete perforation of the central mass of the impaled body...

 their private parts; others stretch out their arms on the gibbet."

At times the gibbet was only one vertical stake, called in Latin crux simplex. This was the simplest available construction for torturing and killing the condemned. Frequently, however, there was a cross-piece attached either at the top to give the shape of a T (crux commissa) or just below the top, as in the form most familiar in Christian symbolism (crux immissa). Other forms were in the shape of the letters X and Y.

The New Testament writings about the crucifixion of Jesus do not speak specifically about the shape of that cross, but the early writings that do speak of its shape, from about the year 100 on, describe it as shaped like the letter T (the Greek letter tau) or as composed of an upright and a transverse beam, sometimes with a small ledge in the upright.

Nail placement



In popular depictions of the crucifixion of Jesus (possibly because in translations of the wounds are described as being "in his hands"), Jesus is shown with nails in his hands. But in Greek the word "χείρ", usually translated as "hand", referred to arm and hand together, and to denote the hand as distinct from the arm some other word was added, as "ἄκρην οὔτασε χεῖρα" (he wounded the end of the χείρ, i.e., he wounded her hand).

A possibility that does not require tying is that the nails were inserted just above the wrist, between the two bones of the forearm (the radius
Radius (bone)
The radius is one of the two large bones of the forearm, the other being the ulna. It extends from the lateral side of the elbow to the thumb side of the wrist and runs parallel to the ulna, which exceeds it in length and size. It is a long bone, prism-shaped and slightly curved longitudinally...

 and the ulna
Ulna
The ulna is one of the two long bones in the forearm, the other being the radius. It is prismatic in form and runs parallel to the radius, which is shorter and smaller. In anatomical position The ulna is one of the two long bones in the forearm, the other being the radius. It is prismatic in form...

).

An experiment that was the subject of a documentary on the National Geographic Channel
National Geographic Channel
National Geographic Channel, also commercially abbreviated and trademarked as Nat Geo, is a subscription television channel that airs non-fiction television programs produced by the National Geographic Society. Like History and the Discovery Channel, the channel features documentaries with factual...

's Quest For Truth: The Crucifixion, showed that a person can be suspended by the palm of the hand. Nailing the feet to the side of the cross relieves strain on the wrists by placing most of the weight on the lower body.

Another possibility, suggested by Frederick Zugibe
Frederick Zugibe
Dr. Frederick Thomas Zugibe is an American expert in forensic medicine. He was the chief medical examiner of Rockland County, New York from 1969 to 2002...

, is that the nails may have been driven in at an angle, entering in the palm in the crease that delineates the bulky region at the base of the thumb, and exiting in the wrist, passing through the carpal tunnel
Carpal tunnel
In the human body, the carpal tunnel or carpal canal is the passageway on the palmar side of the wrist that connects the forearm to the middle compartment of the deep plane of the palm. The tunnel consists of bones and connective tissue...

.

A foot-rest (suppedaneum) attached to the cross, perhaps for the purpose of taking the person's weight off the wrists, is sometimes included in representations of the crucifixion of Jesus, but is not discussed in ancient sources. Some scholars interpret the Alexamenos graffito
Alexamenos graffito
The Alexamenos graffito is an inscription carved in plaster on a wall near the Palatine Hill in Rome, now in the Palatine Antiquarium Museum...

, the earliest surviving depiction of the Crucifixion, as including such a foot-rest. Ancient sources also mention the sedile, a small seat attached to the front of the cross, about halfway down, which could have served a similar purpose. A short upright spike or cornu might also be attached to the sedile, forcing the victim to rest his or her perineum on the point of the device, or allow it to insert into the anus or vagina. These devices were not an attempt to relieve suffering, but would prolong the process of death. The cornu would also add considerably to the pain and humiliation of crucifixion.

In 1968, archaeologists discovered at Giv'at ha-Mivtar in northeast Jerusalem the remains of one Jehohanan
Jehohanan
Jehohanan was a man put to death by crucifixion in the 1st century CE, whose ossuary was found in 1968 when building contractors working in Giv'at ha-Mivtar, a Jewish neighborhood in northern East Jerusalem, Israel, accidentally uncovered a Jewish tomb. The Jewish stone ossuary had the Hebrew...

, who had been crucified in the 1st century. The remains included a heel bone with a nail driven through it from the side. The tip of the nail was bent, perhaps because of striking a knot in the upright beam, which prevented it being extracted from the foot. A first inaccurate account of the length of the nail led some to believe that it had been driven through both heels, suggesting that the man had been placed in a sort of sidesaddle position, but the true length of the nail, 11.5 centimetres (4.53 inches), suggests instead that in this case of crucifixion the heels were nailed to opposite sides of the upright.

Cause of death


The length of time required to reach death could range from hours to days depending on method, the victim's health, and the environment. Death could result from any combination of causes, including blood loss resulting in hypovolemic shock, sepsis
Sepsis
Sepsis is a potentially deadly medical condition that is characterized by a whole-body inflammatory state and the presence of a known or suspected infection. The body may develop this inflammatory response by the immune system to microbes in the blood, urine, lungs, skin, or other tissues...

 following infection due to the wounds caused by the nails or by the scourging
Flagellation
Flagellation or flogging is the act of methodically beating or whipping the human body. Specialised implements for it include rods, switches, the cat o' nine tails and the sjambok...

 that sometimes preceded the crucifixion, or eventual dehydration
Dehydration
In physiology and medicine, dehydration is defined as the excessive loss of body fluid. It is literally the removal of water from an object; however, in physiological terms, it entails a deficiency of fluid within an organism...

.

A theory attributed to Pierre Barbet
Pierre Barbet (physician)
Pierre Barbet was a French physician, and the chief surgeon at Saint Joseph's Hospital in Paris.By performing various experiments, Barbet introduced a set of theories on the Crucifixion of Jesus....

 holds that, when the whole body weight was supported by the stretched arms, the typical cause of death was asphyxiation. He conjectured that the condemned would have severe difficulty inhaling, due to hyper-expansion of the chest muscles and lungs. The condemned would therefore have to draw himself up by his arms, leading to exhaustion, or have his feet supported by tying or by a wood block. When no longer able to lift himself, the condemned would die within a few minutes. Experiments by Frederick Zugibe
Frederick Zugibe
Dr. Frederick Thomas Zugibe is an American expert in forensic medicine. He was the chief medical examiner of Rockland County, New York from 1969 to 2002...

 have, however, revealed that, when suspended with arms at 60° to 70° from the vertical, test subjects had no difficulty breathing. Subjects did suffer rapidly increasing pain, which is consonant with the Roman use of crucifixion to achieve a prolonged, agonizing death. Legs were often broken to hasten death through severe traumatic shock and fat embolism
Fat embolism
A fat embolism is a type of embolism that is often caused by physical trauma such as fracture of long bones, soft tissue trauma and burns.-Presentation:...

.

Survival


Since death does not follow immediately on crucifixion, survival after a short period of crucifixion is possible, as in the case of those who choose each year as a devotional practice to be non-lethally crucified.

There is an ancient record of one person who survived a crucifixion that was intended to be lethal, but that was interrupted. Josephus
Josephus
Titus Flavius Josephus , also called Joseph ben Matityahu , was a 1st-century Romano-Jewish historian and hagiographer of priestly and royal ancestry who recorded Jewish history, with special emphasis on the 1st century AD and the First Jewish–Roman War, which resulted in the Destruction of...

 recounts: "I saw many captives crucified, and remembered three of them as my former acquaintance. I was very sorry at this in my mind, and went with tears in my eyes to Titus
Titus
Titus , was Roman Emperor from 79 to 81. A member of the Flavian dynasty, Titus succeeded his father Vespasian upon his death, thus becoming the first Roman Emperor to come to the throne after his own father....

, and told him of them; so he immediately commanded them to be taken down, and to have the greatest care taken of them, in order to their recovery; yet two of them died under the physician's hands, while the third recovered." Josephus gives no details of the method or duration of the crucifixion of his three friends before their reprieve.

Ancient crucifixion


Despite the fact that the ancient Jewish historian Josephus, as well as other sources, refers to the crucifixion of thousands of people by the Romans, there is only a single archaeological discovery of a crucified body dating back to the Roman Empire around the time of Jesus. This was discovered in Jerusalem in 1968. It is not necessarily surprising that there is only one such discovery, because a crucified body was usually left to decay on the cross and therefore would not be preserved. The only reason these archaeological remains were preserved was because family members gave this particular individual a customary burial.

The remains were found accidentally in an ossuary
Ossuary
An ossuary is a chest, building, well, or site made to serve as the final resting place of human skeletal remains. They are frequently used where burial space is scarce. A body is first buried in a temporary grave, then after some years the skeletal remains are removed and placed in an ossuary...

 with the crucified man’s name on it, 'Yehohanan, the son of Hagakol'. Nicu Haas, an anthropologist at the Hebrew University Medical School in Jerusalem, examined the ossuary and discovered that it contained a heel bone with a nail driven through its side, indicating that the man had been crucified. The position of the nail relative to the bone indicates that the feet had been nailed to the cross from their side, not from their front; various opinions have been proposed as to whether they were both nailed together to the front of the cross or one on the left side, one on the right side. The point of the nail had olive wood fragments on it indicating that he was crucified on a cross made of olive wood or on an olive tree. Since olive trees are not very tall, this would suggest that the condemned was crucified at eye level.

Additionally, a piece of acacia wood was located between the bones and the head of the nail, presumably to keep the condemned from freeing his foot by sliding it over the nail. His legs were found broken, possibly to hasten his death as described in . It is thought that because in Roman times iron was rare, the nails were removed from the dead body to conserve costs. According to Haas, this fact could help to explain why only one nail has been found, as the tip of the nail in question was bent in such a way that it could not be removed.

Haas had also identified a scratch on the inner surface of the right radius bone of the forearm, close to the wrist. He deduced from the form of the scratch, as well as from the intact wrist bones, that a nail had been driven into the forearm at that position. However, much of Haas' findings have been challenged. The scratches in the wrist area were determined to be non-traumatic and, therefore, not evidence of crucifixion. A later reexamination of the heel bone revealed that the two heels were not nailed together, but nailed separately to either side of the upright post of the cross.

Pre-Roman States



Crucifixion (or impalement), in one form or another, was used by Persians, Carthaginians, Macedonians
Macedonians (ethnic group)
The Macedonians also referred to as Macedonian Slavs: "... the term Slavomacedonian was introduced and was accepted by the community itself, which at the time had a much more widespread non-Greek Macedonian ethnic consciousness...

, and Romans
Ancient Rome
Ancient Rome was a thriving civilization that grew on the Italian Peninsula as early as the 8th century BC. Located along the Mediterranean Sea and centered on the city of Rome, it expanded to one of the largest empires in the ancient world....

. Death was often hastened. "The attending Roman guards could only leave the site after the victim had died, and were known to precipitate death by means of deliberate fracturing of the tibia and/or fibula, spear stab wounds into the heart, sharp blows to the front of the chest, or a smoking fire built at the foot of the cross to asphyxiate the victim."

The Greeks were generally opposed to performing crucifixions. However, in his Histories, ix.120–122, the Greek writer Herodotus
Herodotus
Herodotus was an ancient Greek historian who was born in Halicarnassus, Caria and lived in the 5th century BC . He has been called the "Father of History", and was the first historian known to collect his materials systematically, test their accuracy to a certain extent and arrange them in a...

 describes the execution of a Persian general at the hands of Athenians in about 479 BC: "They nailed him to a plank and hung him up ... this Artayctes
Artayctes
Artaÿctes is a historical figure described in Herodotus' The Histories. According to Herodotus, Artayctes was a Persian General, who was in command of the Mossonoikan and Makronian forces in the army of Xerxes during the second Persian invasion of Greece...

 who suffered death by crucifixion." The Commentary on Herodotus by How and Wells remarks: "They crucified him with hands and feet stretched out and nailed to cross-pieces; cf. vii.33. This barbarity, unusual on the part of Greeks, may be explained by the enormity of the outrage or by Athenian deference to local feeling."

Some Christian theologians, beginning with Paul of Tarsus
Tarsus (city)
Tarsus is a historic city in south-central Turkey, 20 km inland from the Mediterranean Sea. It is part of the Adana-Mersin Metropolitan Area, the fourth-largest metropolitan area in Turkey with a population of 2.75 million...

 writing in Galatians
Epistle to the Galatians
The Epistle of Paul to the Galatians, often shortened to Galatians, is the ninth book of the New Testament. It is a letter from Paul of Tarsus to a number of Early Christian communities in the Roman province of Galatia in central Anatolia...

 , have interpreted an allusion to crucifixion in Deuteronomy
Deuteronomy
The Book of Deuteronomy is the fifth book of the Hebrew Bible, and of the Jewish Torah/Pentateuch...

 . This reference is to being hanged from a tree, and may be associated with lynching
Lynching
Lynching is an extrajudicial execution carried out by a mob, often by hanging, but also by burning at the stake or shooting, in order to punish an alleged transgressor, or to intimidate, control, or otherwise manipulate a population of people. It is related to other means of social control that...

 or traditional hanging. However, ancient Jewish law allowed only 4 methods of execution: stoning, burning, strangulation, and decapitation. Crucifixion was thus forbidden by ancient Jewish law. The Aramaic Testament of Levi (DSS 4Q541) interprets in column 6: "God [will set] right errors. [He will judge] revealed sins. Investigate and seek and know how Jonah wept. Thus, you shall not destroy the weak by wasting away or by [crucif]ixion. Let not the nail touch him."

Alexander the Great is reputed to have crucified 2000 survivors from his siege of the Phoenicia
Phoenicia
Phoenicia , was an ancient civilization in Canaan which covered most of the western, coastal part of the Fertile Crescent. Several major Phoenician cities were built on the coastline of the Mediterranean. It was an enterprising maritime trading culture that spread across the Mediterranean from 1550...

n city of Tyre, as well as the doctor who unsuccessfully treated Alexander's friend Hephaestion
Hephaestion
Hephaestion , son of Amyntor, was a Macedonian nobleman and a general in the army of Alexander the Great...

. Some historians have also conjectured that Alexander crucified Callisthenes
Callisthenes
Callisthenes of Olynthus was a Greek historian. He was the son of Hero and Proxenus of Atarneus, which made him the great nephew of Aristotle by his sister Arimneste. They first met when Aristotle tutored Alexander the Great...

, his official historian and biographer, for objecting to Alexander's adoption of the Persian ceremony of royal adoration
Adoration
Adoration is love given with deep affection. The term comes from the Latin adōrātiō, meaning "to give homage or worship to someone or something."-Ancient Middle East:...

.

In Carthage
Carthage
Carthage , implying it was a 'new Tyre') is a major urban centre that has existed for nearly 3,000 years on the Gulf of Tunis, developing from a Phoenician colony of the 1st millennium BC...

, crucifixion was an established mode of execution, which could even be imposed on a general for suffering a major defeat.

Ancient Rome


The hypothesis that the Ancient Roman
Ancient Rome
Ancient Rome was a thriving civilization that grew on the Italian Peninsula as early as the 8th century BC. Located along the Mediterranean Sea and centered on the city of Rome, it expanded to one of the largest empires in the ancient world....

 custom of crucifixion may have developed out of a primitive custom of arbori suspendere—hanging on an arbor infelix (unfortunate tree) dedicated to the gods of the nether world—is rejected by William A. Oldfather, who shows that this form of execution (the supplicium more maiorum, punishment in accordance with the custom of our ancestors) consisted of suspending someone from a tree, not dedicated to any particular gods, and flogging him to death. Tertullian
Tertullian
Quintus Septimius Florens Tertullianus, anglicised as Tertullian , was a prolific early Christian author from Carthage in the Roman province of Africa. He is the first Christian author to produce an extensive corpus of Latin Christian literature. He also was a notable early Christian apologist and...

 mentions a 1st-century AD case in which trees were used for crucifixion, but Seneca the Younger
Seneca the Younger
Lucius Annaeus Seneca was a Roman Stoic philosopher, statesman, dramatist, and in one work humorist, of the Silver Age of Latin literature. He was tutor and later advisor to emperor Nero...

 earlier used the phrase infelix lignum (unfortunate wood) for the transom ("patibulum") or the whole cross. According to others, the Romans appear to have learned of crucifixion from the Carthaginians
Carthage
Carthage , implying it was a 'new Tyre') is a major urban centre that has existed for nearly 3,000 years on the Gulf of Tunis, developing from a Phoenician colony of the 1st millennium BC...

.
Crucifixion was used for slaves
Slavery
Slavery is a system under which people are treated as property to be bought and sold, and are forced to work. Slaves can be held against their will from the time of their capture, purchase or birth, and deprived of the right to leave, to refuse to work, or to demand compensation...

, pirates
Piracy
Piracy is an act of robbery or criminal violence at sea. The term can include acts committed on land, in the air, or in other major bodies of water or on a shore. It does not normally include crimes committed against persons traveling on the same vessel as the perpetrator...

, and enemies of the state. It was considered a most shameful and disgraceful way to die. Condemned Roman citizens were usually exempt from crucifixion (like feudal nobles from hanging, dying more honorably by decapitation) except for major crimes against the state, such as high treason
Treason
In law, treason is the crime that covers some of the more extreme acts against one's sovereign or nation. Historically, treason also covered the murder of specific social superiors, such as the murder of a husband by his wife. Treason against the king was known as high treason and treason against a...

.

Notorious mass crucifixions followed the Third Servile War
Third Servile War
The Third Servile War , also called the Gladiator War and the War of Spartacus by Plutarch, was the last of a series of unrelated and unsuccessful slave rebellions against the Roman Republic, known collectively as the Roman Servile Wars...

 in 73–71 BC (the slave rebellion under Spartacus
Spartacus
Spartacus was a famous leader of the slaves in the Third Servile War, a major slave uprising against the Roman Republic. Little is known about Spartacus beyond the events of the war, and surviving historical accounts are sometimes contradictory and may not always be reliable...

), other Roman civil wars
Roman civil wars
There were several Roman civil wars, especially during the late Republic. The most famous of these are the war in the 40s BC between Julius Caesar and the optimate faction of the senatorial elite initially led by Pompey and the subsequent war between Caesar's successors, Octavian and Mark Antony in...

 in the 2nd and 1st centuries BC, and the Destruction of Jerusalem in 70 AD. To frighten other slaves from revolting, Crassus crucified 6,000 of Spartacus' men along the Appian Way
Appian Way
The Appian Way was one of the earliest and strategically most important Roman roads of the ancient republic. It connected Rome to Brindisi, Apulia, in southeast Italy...

 from Capua to Rome. Josephus tells a story of the Romans crucifying people along the walls of Jerusalem. He also says that the Roman soldiers would amuse themselves by crucifying criminals in different positions. In Roman-style crucifixion, the condemned could take up to a few days to die. The dead body was left up for vulture
Vulture
Vulture is the name given to two groups of convergently evolved scavenging birds, the New World Vultures including the well-known Californian and Andean Condors, and the Old World Vultures including the birds which are seen scavenging on carcasses of dead animals on African plains...

s and other birds to consume.

The goal of Roman crucifixion was not just to kill the criminal, but also to mutilate and dishonour the body of the condemned. In ancient tradition, an honourable death required burial; leaving a body on the cross, so as to mutilate it and prevent its burial, was a grave dishonour.

Under ancient Roman penal practice, crucifixion was also a means of exhibiting the criminal’s low social status. It was the most dishonourable death imaginable, originally reserved for slaves, hence still called "supplicium servile" by Seneca
Seneca the Younger
Lucius Annaeus Seneca was a Roman Stoic philosopher, statesman, dramatist, and in one work humorist, of the Silver Age of Latin literature. He was tutor and later advisor to emperor Nero...

, later extended to provincial freedmen of obscure station ('humiles'). The citizen class of Roman society were almost never subject to capital punishments; instead, they were fined or exiled. Josephus mentions Jews of high rank who were crucified, but this was to point out that their status had been taken away from them. The Romans often broke the prisoner's legs to hasten death and usually forbade burial.

A cruel prelude was occasionally scourging
Flagellation
Flagellation or flogging is the act of methodically beating or whipping the human body. Specialised implements for it include rods, switches, the cat o' nine tails and the sjambok...

, which would cause the condemned to lose a large amount of blood, and approach a state of shock. The convict then usually had to carry the horizontal beam (patibulum in Latin
Latin
Latin is an Italic language originally spoken in Latium and Ancient Rome. It, along with most European languages, is a descendant of the ancient Proto-Indo-European language. Although it is considered a dead language, a number of scholars and members of the Christian clergy speak it fluently, and...

) to the place of execution, but not necessarily the whole cross. Crucifixion was typically carried out by specialized teams, consisting of a commanding centurion
Centurion
A centurion was a professional officer of the Roman army .Centurion may also refer to:-Military:* Centurion tank, British battle tank* HMS Centurion, name of several ships and a shore base of the British Royal Navy...

 and four soldiers. When it was done in an established place of execution, the vertical beam (stipes) could even be permanently embedded in the ground. The condemned was usually stripped naked—all the New Testament
New Testament
The New Testament is the second major division of the Christian biblical canon, the first such division being the much longer Old Testament....

 gospel
Gospel
A gospel is an account, often written, that describes the life of Jesus of Nazareth. In a more general sense the term "gospel" may refer to the good news message of the New Testament. It is primarily used in reference to the four canonical gospels of Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John...

s describe soldiers gambling for the robes of Jesus.

The 'nails' were tapered iron spikes approximately 5 to 7 in (12.7 to 17.8 cm) long, with a square shaft 3/8 in across. In some cases, the nails were gathered afterward and used as healing amulets.

Constantine the Great
Constantine I
Constantine the Great , also known as Constantine I or Saint Constantine, was Roman Emperor from 306 to 337. Well known for being the first Roman emperor to convert to Christianity, Constantine and co-Emperor Licinius issued the Edict of Milan in 313, which proclaimed religious tolerance of all...

, the first Christian emperor
Roman Empire
The Roman Empire was the post-Republican period of the ancient Roman civilization, characterised by an autocratic form of government and large territorial holdings in Europe and around the Mediterranean....

, abolished crucifixion in the Roman Empire in 337 out of veneration for Jesus Christ, its most famous victim.

In the Qur'an


The Qur'an
Qur'an
The Quran , also transliterated Qur'an, Koran, Alcoran, Qur’ān, Coran, Kuran, and al-Qur’ān, is the central religious text of Islam, which Muslims consider the verbatim word of God . It is regarded widely as the finest piece of literature in the Arabic language...

 mentions crucifixion several times. In Surah
Sura
A sura is a division of the Qur'an, often referred to as a chapter. The term chapter is sometimes avoided, as the suras are of unequal length; the shortest sura has only three ayat while the longest contains 286 ayat...

 7:124, Firaun
Firaun
Fir'awn is Arabic for "pharaoh". The Qur'an tells the story of Musa and the Pharaoh also known as Fir'awn.-Qur'anic narrative:Musa and Harun went to the Firaun, and when they arrive he is told about their divine mission and that he should let the Israelites go. Firaun rebukes him by saying that...

 (Arabic for Pharaoh) says that he will crucify his chief wizards. Also, Surah 12:41 mentions Prophet Yusuf (Joseph) prophesying that the king (the current ruler of the land he was stranded in) would crucify one of his prisoners.
'And the wizards fell down prostrate, crying: "We believe in the Lord of the Worlds, The Lord of Musa
Islamic view of Moses
Musa , known as Moses in the Old Testament, is considered an Islamic prophet, messenger, lawgiver and leader in Islam. Moses is mentioned more in the Quran than any other individual, and his life is narrated and recounted more than that any other prophet...

 and Harun". Firaun said: "Ye believe in Him before I give you leave! Lo! this is the plot that ye have plotted in the city that ye may drive its people hence. But ye shall come to know! Surely I shall have your hands and feet cut off upon alternate sides. Then I shall crucify you every one."' Surah 7:120-124

'O my two fellow-prisoners! As for one of you, he will pour out wine for his lord to drink; and as for the other, he will be crucified so that the birds will eat from his head. Thus is the case judged concerning which ye did inquire.' Surah 12:41


In Surah 5:33, The Qur'an mentions crucifixion as a form of punishment. There are four different punishments for the different severities of crime. Crucifixion is the punishment for the robber who kills his victim after robbing him.
'The punishment of those who wage war against Allah and His Messenger, and strive with might and main for mischief through the land is: execution, or crucifixion, or the cutting off of hands and feet from opposite sides, or exile from the land: that is their disgrace in this world, and a heavy punishment is theirs in the Hereafter.' Surah 5:33

Japan


Crucifixion was introduced in Japan
Japan
Japan is an island nation in East Asia. Located in the Pacific Ocean, it lies to the east of the Sea of Japan, China, North Korea, South Korea and Russia, stretching from the Sea of Okhotsk in the north to the East China Sea and Taiwan in the south...

 during the Sengoku period
Sengoku period
The or Warring States period in Japanese history was a time of social upheaval, political intrigue, and nearly constant military conflict that lasted roughly from the middle of the 15th century to the beginning of the 17th century. The name "Sengoku" was adopted by Japanese historians in reference...

 (1467–1573), after a 350-year period with no capital punishment. It is believed to have been suggested to the Japanese by the introduction of Christianity to the region. Known in Japanese as , crucifixion was used in Japan before and during the Tokugawa Shogunate
Tokugawa shogunate
The Tokugawa shogunate, also known as the and the , was a feudal regime of Japan established by Tokugawa Ieyasu and ruled by the shoguns of the Tokugawa family. This period is known as the Edo period and gets its name from the capital city, Edo, which is now called Tokyo, after the name was...

. The condemned, usually a commoner convicted by the local feudal authorities, was hoisted upon a T-shaped cross. The executioner
Executioner
A judicial executioner is a person who carries out a death sentence ordered by the state or other legal authority, which was known in feudal terminology as high justice.-Scope and job:...

 finished him off with spear thrusts from below the ribcage, then the body was left to hang for a time as a public display before disposal.

In 1597, twenty-six Christian
Christian
A Christian is a person who adheres to Christianity, an Abrahamic, monotheistic religion based on the life and teachings of Jesus of Nazareth as recorded in the Canonical gospels and the letters of the New Testament...

s were nailed to crosses at Nagasaki, Japan. Among those executed were Paulo Miki
Paulo Miki
Paulo Miki was a Roman Catholic Japanese Jesuit seminarian, martyr and saint, one of the Twenty-six Martyrs of Japan.-Biography:...

, Philip of Jesus
Philip of Jesus
Saint Philip of Jesus was a Mexican Catholic missionary who became one of the Twenty-six Martyrs of Japan, the first Mexican saint and patron saint of Mexico City....

 and Pedro Bautista, a Spanish
Spain
Spain , officially the Kingdom of Spain languages]] under the European Charter for Regional or Minority Languages. In each of these, Spain's official name is as follows:;;;;;;), is a country and member state of the European Union located in southwestern Europe on the Iberian Peninsula...

 Franciscan
Franciscan
Most Franciscans are members of Roman Catholic religious orders founded by Saint Francis of Assisi. Besides Roman Catholic communities, there are also Old Catholic, Anglican, Lutheran, ecumenical and Non-denominational Franciscan communities....

 who had worked about ten years in the Philippines
Philippines
The Philippines , officially known as the Republic of the Philippines , is a country in Southeast Asia in the western Pacific Ocean. To its north across the Luzon Strait lies Taiwan. West across the South China Sea sits Vietnam...

. The executions marked the beginning of a long history of persecution of Christianity in Japan, which continued until the Meiji Restoration
Meiji Restoration
The , also known as the Meiji Ishin, Revolution, Reform or Renewal, was a chain of events that restored imperial rule to Japan in 1868...

 introduced religious freedom in Japan in 1871.

The historical novel Silence
Silence (novel)
is a 1966 novel of historical fiction by Japanese author Shusaku Endo. It is the story of a Jesuit missionary sent to seventeenth century Japan, who endured persecution in the time of Kakure Kirishitan that followed the defeat of the Shimabara Rebellion...

by Shusaku Endo
Shusaku Endo
Shūsaku Endō was a 20th-century Japanese author who wrote from the unusual perspective of being both Japanese and Catholic...

 gives an account of the 17th century Christian persecutions based upon the oral histories of contemporary Kakure Kirishitan
Kakure Kirishitan
is a modern term for a member of the Japanese Catholic Church that went underground after the Shimabara Rebellion in the 1630s.-History:Kakure Kirishitans are called the "hidden" Christians because they continued to practice Christianity in secret. They worshipped in secret rooms in private homes...

 communities.

In the early Meiji period
Meiji period
The , also known as the Meiji era, is a Japanese era which extended from September 1868 through July 1912. This period represents the first half of the Empire of Japan.- Meiji Restoration and the emperor :...

 (c. 1865-8), the 25 year-old servant Sokichi was executed by crucifixion for the murder of the son of his employer, a store-owner, during the course of a robbery. He was affixed to a stake with two cross-pieces by tying, rather than nailing.

Crucifixion was used as a punishment for prisoners of war during World War II
World War II
World War II, or the Second World War , was a global conflict lasting from 1939 to 1945, involving most of the world's nations—including all of the great powers—eventually forming two opposing military alliances: the Allies and the Axis...

. Ringer Edwards
Ringer Edwards
Herbert James "Ringer" Edwards , was an Australian soldier during World War II. As a prisoner of war , he survived being crucified for 63 hours by Japanese soldiers on the Burma Railway. Edwards was the basis for the character of "Joe Harman" in the 1950 Nevil Shute novel A Town Like Alice...

, an Australian prisoner of war, was crucified for killing cattle, along with two others. He survived 63 hours before being let down.

Europe


During World War I
World War I
World War I , which was predominantly called the World War or the Great War from its occurrence until 1939, and the First World War or World War I thereafter, was a major war centred in Europe that began on 28 July 1914 and lasted until 11 November 1918...

, there were persistent rumors that German soldiers had crucified a Canadian soldier
The Crucified Soldier
The Crucified Soldier refers to the widespread story of an Allied soldier serving in the Canadian Corps who may have been crucified with bayonets on a barn door or a tree, while fighting on the Western Front during World War I...

 on a tree or barn door with bayonet
Bayonet
A bayonet is a knife, dagger, sword, or spike-shaped weapon designed to fit in, on, over or underneath the muzzle of a rifle, musket or similar weapon, effectively turning the gun into a spear...

s or combat knives. The event was initially reported in 1915 by Private George Barrie of the 1st Canadian Division
1st Canadian Division
Formed in August 1914, the 1st Canadian Division was a formation of the Canadian Expeditionary Force. The division was initially made up from provisional battalions that were named after their province of origin but these titles were dropped before the division arrived in Britain on October 14,...

. Two investigations, one a post-war official investigation, and the other an independent investigation by the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation
Canadian Broadcasting Corporation
The Canadian Broadcasting Corporation, commonly known as CBC and officially as CBC/Radio-Canada, is a Canadian crown corporation that serves as the national public radio and television broadcaster...

, concluded that there was no evidence to support the story. However, British documentary maker Iain Overton
Iain Overton
Iain Overton is a British documentary maker born on 3 August, 1973. He has worked for the BBC and ITN and worked in over 85 countries around the world....

 in 2001 published an article claiming that the story was true, identifying the soldier as Harry Band. Overton's article was the basis for a 2002 episode of the Channel 4
Channel 4
Channel 4 is a British public-service television broadcaster which began working on 2 November 1982. Although largely commercially self-funded, it is ultimately publicly owned; originally a subsidiary of the Independent Broadcasting Authority , the station is now owned and operated by the Channel...

 documentary show Secret History.

A practice resembling crucifixion, also known as Field Punishment Number One, was used as a form of punishment in the British Army, especially during World War I, usually for crimes such as disobedience and the refusal of orders. The offender would be tied to the wheel of a wagon or gun carriage for two hours every day. They would also be subjected to solitary confinement, a bread-and-water diet and hard labour in between crucifixions. This could last for up to twenty eight days. Later on in the war, when wagons and gun carriages were in short supply, the offender would be tied to a fence, a beam, or on at least one occasion, a barbed wire fence. The main idea was to humiliate the soldier.

It has been reported that crucifixion was used in several cases against the German
Germany
Germany , officially the Federal Republic of Germany , is a federal parliamentary republic in Europe. The country consists of 16 states while the capital and largest city is Berlin. Germany covers an area of 357,021 km2 and has a largely temperate seasonal climate...

 civil population of East Prussia
East Prussia
East Prussia is the main part of the region of Prussia along the southeastern Baltic Coast from the 13th century to the end of World War II in May 1945. From 1772–1829 and 1878–1945, the Province of East Prussia was part of the German state of Prussia. The capital city was Königsberg.East Prussia...

 when it was occupied by Soviet forces at the end of the Second World War
World War II
World War II, or the Second World War , was a global conflict lasting from 1939 to 1945, involving most of the world's nations—including all of the great powers—eventually forming two opposing military alliances: the Allies and the Axis...

.

Crucifixion today


Theoretically, crucifixion is still one of the Hadd punishments in the Islamic Republic of Iran
Iran
Iran , officially the Islamic Republic of Iran , is a country in Southern and Western Asia. The name "Iran" has been in use natively since the Sassanian era and came into use internationally in 1935, before which the country was known to the Western world as Persia...

 (Iran's Islamic Criminal Law, Article 195), although it is not actually applied and there is no example of using it. If a crucified person were to survive three days of crucifixion, that person would be allowed to live. Execution by hanging is described as follows: "In execution by hanging, the prisoner will be hung on a hanging truss which should look like a cross, while his (her) back is toward the cross, and (s)he faces the direction of Mecca [in Saudi Arabia], and his (her) legs are vertical and distant from the ground."

Sudan
Sudan
Sudan , officially the Republic of the Sudan , is a country in North Africa, sometimes considered part of the Middle East politically. It is bordered by Egypt to the north, the Red Sea to the northeast, Eritrea and Ethiopia to the east, South Sudan to the south, the Central African Republic to the...

's penal code, based upon the government's interpretation of Shari'a, includes execution followed by crucifixion as a penalty. When, in 2002, 88 people were sentenced to execution, Amnesty International speculated that they could be executed by either hanging or crucifixion. The accused were convicted of crimes relating to murder, armed robbery, and participating in ethnic clashes in Southern Darfur
Darfur
Darfur is a region in western Sudan. An independent sultanate for several hundred years, it was incorporated into Sudan by Anglo-Egyptian forces in 1916. The region is divided into three federal states: West Darfur, South Darfur, and North Darfur...

 that killed at least 10 people, but Amnesty International
Amnesty International
Amnesty International is an international non-governmental organisation whose stated mission is "to conduct research and generate action to prevent and end grave abuses of human rights, and to demand justice for those whose rights have been violated."Following a publication of Peter Benenson's...

 believes that the convicted were tortured and did not receive a fair trial and adequate legal representation.

In the 50th Session of the UN Commission on Human Rights (1994), local bishops reported several cases of crucifixion of Christian priests.

The human rights group Karen Women Organization documented a case of Tatmadaw forces crucifying several Karen
Karen people
The Karen or Kayin people , are a Sino-Tibetan language speaking ethnic group which resides primarily in southern and southeastern Burma . The Karen make up approximately 7 percent of the total Burmese population of approximately 50 million people...

 villagers in 2000 in the Dooplaya District in Burma's Kayin State
Kayin State
Kayin State is a state of Burma . The capital city is Hpa-an.-History:The region that forms today's Kayin State was part of successive Burmese kingdoms since the formation of the Pagan Empire in mid-11th century...

.

The crucifixion of a nun in Romania
Romania
Romania is a country located at the crossroads of Central and Southeastern Europe, on the Lower Danube, within and outside the Carpathian arch, bordering on the Black Sea...

 made news in 2005. 23 year-old Maricica Irina Cornici was believed to be possessed by the devil. Father Daniel, the superior of the Romanian Orthodox monastery who ordered the crucifixion, did not understand why journalists were making a fuss over the story, claiming that "Exorcism is a common practice in the heart of the Romanian Orthodox church and my methods are not at all unknown to other priests." Father Daniel and four nuns were charged with imprisonment leading to death.

On 23 November 2009 in Saudi Arabia
Saudi Arabia
The Kingdom of Saudi Arabia , commonly known in British English as Saudi Arabia and in Arabic as as-Sa‘ūdiyyah , is the largest state in Western Asia by land area, constituting the bulk of the Arabian Peninsula, and the second-largest in the Arab World...

, a 22-year-old man was sentenced to beheading and posthumous crucifixion, by tying his beheaded body to wooden beams to be displayed to the public after the beheading. The man was convicted of and admitted to abducting and raping five children, aged between 3 and 7 years, whom he left out in the desert to die.

On 1 May 2011, the Gyeongbuk Provincial Police Agency investigated a dead taxi driver in his late 50s who was crucified in an abandoned mine near Mungyeong
Mungyeong
Mungyeong is a city in Gyeongsangbuk Province, South Korea. The local government, economy, and transportation networks are all centered in Jeomchon, the principal town. Mungyeong has a lengthy history, and is known today for its various historic and scenic tourist attractions...

, Gyeongsangbuk-do
Gyeongsangbuk-do
Gyeongsangbuk-do or shortly Gyeongbuk is a province in eastern South Korea. The province was formed in 1896 from the northern half of the former Gyeongsang province, remained a province of Korea until the country's division in 1945, then became part of South Korea.The Gyeongsangbuk-do Office is...

, South Korea
South Korea
The Republic of Korea , , is a sovereign state in East Asia, located on the southern portion of the Korean Peninsula. It is neighbored by the People's Republic of China to the west, Japan to the east, North Korea to the north, and the East China Sea and Republic of China to the south...

.

As a devotional practice


Since at least the mid-19th century, a group of Catholic flagellants in New Mexico
New Mexico
New Mexico is a state located in the southwest and western regions of the United States. New Mexico is also usually considered one of the Mountain States. With a population density of 16 per square mile, New Mexico is the sixth-most sparsely inhabited U.S...

 called Hermanos de Luz ("Brothers of Light") have annually conducted reenactments of Jesus Christ's crucifixion during Holy Week
Holy Week
Holy Week in Christianity is the last week of Lent and the week before Easter...

, in which a penitent is tied—but not nailed—to a cross.

Some Catholics are voluntarily, non-lethally crucified for a limited time on Good Friday
Good Friday
Good Friday , is a religious holiday observed primarily by Christians commemorating the crucifixion of Jesus Christ and his death at Calvary. The holiday is observed during Holy Week as part of the Paschal Triduum on the Friday preceding Easter Sunday, and may coincide with the Jewish observance of...

, to imitate the suffering of Jesus Christ, although the Church greatly discourages this practice. A notable example is the ceremonial re-enactment that has been performed yearly in the town of Iztapalapa
Iztapalapa
Iztapalapa is one of the Federal District of Mexico City’s 16 boroughs, located on the east side of the entity. The borough is named after and centered on the formerly independent municipality of Iztapalapa, which is officially called Iztapalapa de Cuitláhuac for disambiguation purposes...

, on the outskirts of Mexico City
Mexico City
Mexico City is the Federal District , capital of Mexico and seat of the federal powers of the Mexican Union. It is a federal entity within Mexico which is not part of any one of the 31 Mexican states but belongs to the federation as a whole...

, since 1833.

Devotional crucifixions are also common in the Philippines
Philippines
The Philippines , officially known as the Republic of the Philippines , is a country in Southeast Asia in the western Pacific Ocean. To its north across the Luzon Strait lies Taiwan. West across the South China Sea sits Vietnam...

. Worshipers drive thin nails through the palm of the hand, a step is used to stand on, and the period is short, not a full crucifixion. One man named Rolando del Campo who was a carpenter in Pampanga vowed to be crucified every Good Friday
Good Friday
Good Friday , is a religious holiday observed primarily by Christians commemorating the crucifixion of Jesus Christ and his death at Calvary. The holiday is observed during Holy Week as part of the Paschal Triduum on the Friday preceding Easter Sunday, and may coincide with the Jewish observance of...

 for 15 years if God would carry his wife through a difficult childbirth. In San Pedro Cutud
San Pedro Cutud
San Pedro Cutud is a barangay in City of San Fernando, Pampanga province in the Philippines, approximately 70 kilometers north of Manila. It is known for annual re-enactments of the crucifixion of Jesus...

, devotee Ruben Enaje has been crucified 21 times, as of 2007, during Passion Week
Passion Week
Passion Week is a name for the week beginning on Passion Sunday, as the Fifth Sunday of Lent was once called in the Roman Rite.However, even before Pope John XXIII's Code of Rubrics changed the name of this Sunday from "Passion Sunday" to "First Sunday of the Passion" , the liturgical books gave...

 celebrations. Although the country's dominant Catholic Church disapproves of the ritual, the Filipino government says it cannot stop the devotees from crucifying and whipping themselves. The health department insists that those taking part in the rituals should have tetanus
Tetanus
Tetanus is a medical condition characterized by a prolonged contraction of skeletal muscle fibers. The primary symptoms are caused by tetanospasmin, a neurotoxin produced by the Gram-positive, rod-shaped, obligate anaerobic bacterium Clostridium tetani...

 shots and that the nails used to pierce their limbs should be sterilized.

In many cases the person portraying Jesus is first subjected to flagellation
Flagellation
Flagellation or flogging is the act of methodically beating or whipping the human body. Specialised implements for it include rods, switches, the cat o' nine tails and the sjambok...

 and wears a crown of thorns
Crown of Thorns
In Christianity, the Crown of Thorns, one of the instruments of the Passion, was woven of thorn branches and placed on Jesus Christ before his crucifixion...

. Sometimes there is a whole passion play
Passion play
A Passion play is a dramatic presentation depicting the Passion of Jesus Christ: his trial, suffering and death. It is a traditional part of Lent in several Christian denominations, particularly in Catholic tradition....

, sometimes only the mortification of the flesh.

Famous crucifixions

  • The crucifixion of Jesus
    Crucifixion of Jesus
    The crucifixion of Jesus and his ensuing death is an event that occurred during the 1st century AD. Jesus, who Christians believe is the Son of God as well as the Messiah, was arrested, tried, and sentenced by Pontius Pilate to be scourged, and finally executed on a cross...

    : Jesus of Nazareth's death by crucifixion, recounted in the four first-century canonical Gospels, is referred to repeatedly, as something well known, in the earlier letters of Saint Paul
    Paul of Tarsus
    Paul the Apostle , also known as Saul of Tarsus, is described in the Christian New Testament as one of the most influential early Christian missionaries, with the writings ascribed to him by the church forming a considerable portion of the New Testament...

    , for instance five times in his First Letter to the Corinthians, written in AD 57 (1:13, 1:18, 1:23, 2:2, 2:8). Pilate was the Roman governor at the time, and he is explicitly linked with the condemnation of Jesus not only by the Gospels but also by Tacitus
    Tacitus
    Publius Cornelius Tacitus was a senator and a historian of the Roman Empire. The surviving portions of his two major works—the Annals and the Histories—examine the reigns of the Roman Emperors Tiberius, Claudius, Nero and those who reigned in the Year of the Four Emperors...

    , (most likely in AD 30 or 33) by Pontius Pilate
    Pontius Pilate
    Pontius Pilatus , known in the English-speaking world as Pontius Pilate , was the fifth Prefect of the Roman province of Judaea, from AD 26–36. He is best known as the judge at Jesus' trial and the man who authorized the crucifixion of Jesus...

    , the Roman governor of Iudaea province
    Iudaea Province
    Judaea or Iudaea are terms used by historians to refer to the Roman province that extended over parts of the former regions of the Hasmonean and Herodian kingdoms of Israel...

     (see Responsibility for the death of Jesus for details). The civil charge was a claim to be King of the Jews.
  • The rebel slaves of the Third Servile War
    Third Servile War
    The Third Servile War , also called the Gladiator War and the War of Spartacus by Plutarch, was the last of a series of unrelated and unsuccessful slave rebellions against the Roman Republic, known collectively as the Roman Servile Wars...

    : Between 73 BC and 71 BC a band of slaves, eventually numbering about 120,000, under the (at least partial) leadership of Spartacus
    Spartacus
    Spartacus was a famous leader of the slaves in the Third Servile War, a major slave uprising against the Roman Republic. Little is known about Spartacus beyond the events of the war, and surviving historical accounts are sometimes contradictory and may not always be reliable...

     were in open revolt against the Roman republic
    Roman Republic
    The Roman Republic was the period of the ancient Roman civilization where the government operated as a republic. It began with the overthrow of the Roman monarchy, traditionally dated around 508 BC, and its replacement by a government headed by two consuls, elected annually by the citizens and...

    . The rebellion was eventually crushed, and while Spartacus himself most likely died in the final battle of the revolt, approximately 6,000 of his followers were crucified along the 200 km road between Capua and Rome, as a warning to any other would-be rebels.
  • Saint Peter
    Saint Peter
    Saint Peter or Simon Peter was an early Christian leader, who is featured prominently in the New Testament Gospels and the Acts of the Apostles. The son of John or of Jonah and from the village of Bethsaida in the province of Galilee, his brother Andrew was also an apostle...

    , Christian apostle: according to tradition, Peter was crucified upside-down at his own request (hence the Cross of St. Peter
    Cross of St. Peter
    The Cross of St. Peter or Petrine Cross is an inverted Latin cross traditionally used as a Christian symbol, but in recent times also used widely as an anti-Christ symbol .-In Christianity:The origin of this symbol comes from the Catholic tradition that Simon Peter was crucified upside...

    ), as he did not feel worthy to die the same way as Jesus.
  • Saint Andrew
    Saint Andrew
    Saint Andrew , called in the Orthodox tradition Prōtoklētos, or the First-called, is a Christian Apostle and the brother of Saint Peter. The name "Andrew" , like other Greek names, appears to have been common among the Jews from the 3rd or 2nd century BC. No Hebrew or Aramaic name is recorded for him...

    , Christian apostle and Saint Peter
    Saint Peter
    Saint Peter or Simon Peter was an early Christian leader, who is featured prominently in the New Testament Gospels and the Acts of the Apostles. The son of John or of Jonah and from the village of Bethsaida in the province of Galilee, his brother Andrew was also an apostle...

    's brother: crucified, according to tradition, on an X-shaped cross, hence the name St. Andrew's Cross
    Saltire
    A saltire, or Saint Andrew's Cross, is a heraldic symbol in the form of a diagonal cross or letter ex . Saint Andrew is said to have been martyred on such a cross....

  • Simeon of Jerusalem
    Simeon of Jerusalem
    Saint Simeon of Jerusalem, son of Clopas, was a Jewish Christian leader and according to most Christian traditions the second Bishop of Jerusalem .-Life:Eusebius of Caesarea gives the list of these bishops...

    , 2nd Bishop of Jerusalem, crucified either 106 or 107
  • Little Saint Hugh of Lincoln
    Little Saint Hugh of Lincoln
    Hugh of Lincoln was an English boy, whose death prompted a blood libel with ramifications that reach until today. Hugh is known as Little Saint Hugh to distinguish him from Saint Hugh, otherwise Hugh of Lincoln. The style is often corrupted to Little Sir Hugh...

     was an English boy whose disappearance in 1255 prompted a blood libel
    Blood libel
    Blood libel is a false accusation or claim that religious minorities, usually Jews, murder children to use their blood in certain aspects of their religious rituals and holidays...

     against the local Jews. A Jewish man was tortured until he confessed to killing the child. The story of Little Saint Hugh became well known through medieval ballad poetry.
  • Archbishop Joachim
    Archbishop Joachim of Nizhny Novgorod
    Archbishop Joachim of Nizhny Novgorod , was a Russian Orthodox bishop and religious writer martyred by local Bolsheviks in Sevastopol, Ukraine by being crucified upside down on the royal doors of the cathedral's iconostasis...

     of Nizhny Novgorod
    Nizhny Novgorod
    Nizhny Novgorod , colloquially shortened to Nizhny, is, with the population of 1,250,615, the fifth largest city in Russia, ranking after Moscow, St. Petersburg, Novosibirsk, and Yekaterinburg...

    : reportedly crucified upside down, on the Royal Doors of the Cathedral in Sevastopol
    Sevastopol
    Sevastopol is a city on rights of administrative division of Ukraine, located on the Black Sea coast of the Crimea peninsula. It has a population of 342,451 . Sevastopol is the second largest port in Ukraine, after the Port of Odessa....

    , Russia
    Russia
    Russia or , officially known as both Russia and the Russian Federation , is a country in northern Eurasia. It is a federal semi-presidential republic, comprising 83 federal subjects...

     in 1920
  • Wilgefortis was venerated as a saint and represented as a crucified woman, however her legend comes from a misinterpretation of the full-clothed crucifix of Lucca.

See also

  • Crucifixion darkness and eclipse
  • Crucifixion in the arts
    Crucifixion in the arts
    Crucifixion and crucifixes have appeared in the arts and popular culture from before the era of the pagan Roman Empire. The crucifixion of Jesus has been depicted in religious art since the 4th century CE...

  • Crucifixion of Jesus
    Crucifixion of Jesus
    The crucifixion of Jesus and his ensuing death is an event that occurred during the 1st century AD. Jesus, who Christians believe is the Son of God as well as the Messiah, was arrested, tried, and sentenced by Pontius Pilate to be scourged, and finally executed on a cross...

  • List of methods of capital punishment
  • Seven Sorrows of Mary
    Our Lady of Sorrows
    Our Lady of Sorrows , the Sorrowful Mother or Mother of Sorrows , and Our Lady of the Seven Sorrows or Our Lady of the Seven Dolours are names by which the Blessed Virgin Mary is referred to in relation to sorrows in her life...

  • Torture
    Torture
    Torture is the act of inflicting severe pain as a means of punishment, revenge, forcing information or a confession, or simply as an act of cruelty. Throughout history, torture has often been used as a method of political re-education, interrogation, punishment, and coercion...


External links