In the Christian church flagellation was originally a punishment, and was practised not only by parents and schoolmasters, but also by bishops, who thus corrected offending priests and monks (St Augustine, Ep. 1 59 ad Marcell.; cf.
A zealot for monastic and clerical reform, he introduced a more severe discipline, including the practice of flagellation, into the house, which, under his rule, quickly attained celebrity, and became a model for other foundations.
Voluntary flagellation, as a form of exalted devotion, occurs in almost all religions.
Ritual flagellation existed among the Jews, and, according to Buxtorf (Synagoga judaica, Basel, 1603), was one of the ceremonies of the day of the Great Pardon.
Gradually, however, voluntary flagellation appeared in the libri poenitentiales as a very efficacious means of penance.
Damiani advocated the substitution of flagellation for the recitation of the penitential psalms, and drew up a scale according to which 1000 strokes were equivalent to ten psalms, and 15,000 to the whole psalter.
In Germany, in 1414, there was a recrudescence of the epidemic of flagellation, which then became a clearly-formulated heresy.
Schmidt gave himself out as the incarnation of Enoch, and prophesied the approaching fall of the Church of Rome, the overthrow of the ancient sacraments, and the triumph of flagellation as the only road to salvation.
The king's encouragement seemed at first to point to a successful revival of flagellation; but the practice disappeared along with the other forms of devotion that had sprung up at the time of the league, and Henry III.'s successor suppressed the Paris brotherhood.
Flagellation was occasionally practised as a means of salvation by certain Jansenist convulsionaries in the 18th century, and also, towards the end of the 18th century, by a little Jansenist sect known as the Fareinists, founded by the brothers Bonjour, cures of Fareins, near Trevoux (Ain).
For an account of flagellation in antiquity see S.
Penance might consist in fasting; it might consist in flagellation; it might consist in pilgrimage.
700, was twice blessed; not only was it an act of atonement in itself, like fasting and flagellation; it also gained for the pilgrim the merit of having stood on holy ground.
The custom of collective flagellation was introduced into the monastic houses, the ceremony taking place every Friday after confession.