flagellants

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flagellants

The flagellants were a sect of devout Christians who whipped and otherwise abused themselves as a public demonstration of their faith. Their practice was common in the medieval era, when pilgrimages to holy shrines and sites were undertaken by all Christians who were able. The flagellants took the concept of pilgrimage to an extreme, demonstrating not only their ability to withstand wearying journeys but also physical pain, inflicted in memory of the pain suffered by Christ himself during his trial and crucifixion in ancient Jerusalem. The first flagellants were monks, who appeared in market squares and city streets to do public penance for their sins. Gradually the processions of flagellants grew in size, reaching several thousands in Italy and Germany. The movement reached a peak around the time of the Black Deaththe bubonic plague that killed some one-third of Europe's population and which to many represented the wrath of God for the common people's immoral and unholy way of life. In some places, flagellants sparked violent public demonstrations that threatened disobedience toward civil and religious authorities. For this reason, the church condemned the flagellants and on many occasions they were tried and executed for heresy. The Inquisitiona Catholic tribunal that punished heresyconducted several mass trials of flagellants in the fifteenth century, although it did accept flagellation as a form of penance under guidance. The movement survived among small and secret brotherhoods such as the Penitential Brothers of Spain, who brought their practices to the New World.

flagellant

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flagellant Religious zealot who uses flagellation, or flogging, for disciplinary or devotional purposes. Now almost obsolete, the practice of flagellation has been part of many religions, including those of ancient Greece and Rome, some Native American cultures, and Christianity. In most cases, flagellants have used beatings as a form of penance or purification.

flagellant

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flag·el·lant / ˈflajələnt; fləˈjelənt/ • n. a person who subjects themselves or others to flogging, either as a religious discipline or for sexual gratification.

flagellant

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flagellant XVI. — L. flagellāns, -ant-, prp. of flagellāre whip (whence flagellate XVII, flagellation XV), f. flagellum, dim. of flagrum scourge; see -ANT.