"Perhaps they’d gathered under the cross for shelter but the hole into which it had been set and the cairn of rocks about its base showed how it had been pushed over and how the hooded alterchrist had been cut down and disemboweled who now lay with the scraps of rope by which he had been bound still tied about his wrists and ankles."
Public Domain'Penitents "crucifying" one of their own' (c. 1888), photographed by Charles F. Lummis - Credit: Library of Congress

The Good Friday procession of Los Hermanos Penitentes culminated with a re-enactment of the crucifixion of Jesus Christ.

The crucifixion was not intended to bring about the death of the adherent, but in order to atone for sins. The chosen penitent was cinched to the cross with rough ropes around his arms and legs. According to Charles F. Lummis, one of the few outsiders to witness the ritual and whose photograph accompanies this bookmark, in previous years the victim had been spiked to the cross. This practice was by then, however, already in decline following the deaths of four men while nailed to crosses in penitent communities in southern Colorado.

At present no crucifixions take place, though previous to 1896 they were annual in many places in New Mexico and Colorado.