Isidro Zuniga walked barefoot under the heavy load.
"It's all for my faith," he said.
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The St. Ansgar Catholic Church parishioner portrayed Jesus for the second straight year as more than 1,000 worshippers marked Good Friday with the Via Crucis, or Way of the Cross.
The Spanish-speaking tradition dates back centuries. The Hanover Park church moved the solemn scene -- recreating the last moments of Christ's life -- outdoors last year to accommodate large crowds.
Since early March, organizers have prepared volunteers to act out the 14 Stations of the Cross.
For more than a mile, Zuniga carried a wooden cross down Laurel Avenue and Church Street. Two others, who played criminals crucified on either side of Jesus, hauled beams.
"For them, it is heavy," the Rev. Eduardo Garcia said. "It is a penance."
Neighbors stepped outside their homes and watched the throngs file by, praying and singing hymns together.
"They can identify with situations like that in their own lives," Garcia said. "They see Christ undergo all these things, and it speaks to them and their own situations in life."
Along the way, Roman soldiers taunted and tortured Jesus with whips. Red paint dripped down Zuniga's back and face underneath a crown of thorns.
The procession ended with Zuniga and onlookers scaling a sledding hill on Walnut Avenue where performers staged Jesus' crucifixion. The crowds fell to their knees and knelt at the sight of his death.
Zuniga fasted before the role.
"I just need spirit," he said.