Thursday, March 26, 2020

The Eschatology of Flagellation During Epidemics

Following the example of the Benedictine monk Peter Damian in the 11th century, flagellation became a form of penance in the Catholic Church and its monastic orders. The 11th-century zealot Dominicus Loricatus repeated the entire Psalter twenty times in one week, accompanying each psalm with a hundred lash-strokes to his back. The distinction of the Flagellants was to take this self-mortification into the cities and other public spaces as a demonstration of piety. In the 19th century Herman Haupt connected the flagellant processions with eschatological prophecies and maintained that "the flagellants felt called upon to prepare the way for the kingdom of God."