Novena church marks first Good Friday in new building with outdoor play

Roman soldiers abusing Jesus during the Passion play at Novena Church, known officially as the Church of St Alphonsus, on March 30, 2018.
Roman soldiers abusing Jesus during the Passion play at Novena Church, known officially as the Church of St Alphonsus, on March 30, 2018.ST PHOTO: GAVIN FOO

SINGAPORE - Depicting Jesus Christ in Easter passion plays can be highly challenging as sales manager Adrian Loh knows only too well.

Mr Loh, 45, has played the role three times in the past five years but the hardest part is not the painful grimaces he shows as he simulates being beaten or the extensive make-up smeared on his body to look like wounds.

"The most daunting thing is to strip down," said Mr Loh, who has been in his church's drama ministry for 15 years. He is bare-chested while being "crucified" in the passion play, which depicts Christ's final journey before his death.

"It is a reminder of the humiliation Jesus went through," he added.

Mr Loh was performing before about 1,700 people on Friday morning (March 30) at Novena Church, known officially as the Church of St Alphonsus.

Good Friday commemorates the crucifixion and death of Jesus Christ.

It was held for the first time at the church's renovated Thomson Road premises after a three-year, $54 million overhaul.

The refurbishing work meant worshippers had to attend mass and other services at the Church of the Risen Christ in Toa Payoh Central and at St Joseph's Institution Junior's school hall in Novena.


Mr Adrian Loh, depicting Jesus Christ, was performing before about 1,700 people. ST PHOTO: GAVIN FOO

Friday's performance was held outdoors at the plaza of the new development, an idea mooted by play director Shermaine Ng, 26.

"It engages the audience more," said Ms Ng, a medical technologist.


Good Friday commemorates the crucifixion and death of Jesus Christ. ST PHOTO: GAVIN FOO

Some in the audience were seen dabbing their eyes with tissue during the drama.

Filipina pre-school teacher Jane Abana, 24, who has been working in Singapore for nine months, said: "Besides the death of Christ, I am also thinking of my family back home as we usually spend Good Friday together."


Liam Lee, 4, kisses the crucifix in a common Roman Catholic tradition on Good Friday. ST PHOTO: GAVIN FOO

In a common Roman Catholic tradition on Good Friday, the congregation - some as young as four years old - lined up after the half-hour play to venerate the crucifix by kissing the feet of Christ.