flagellants

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flagellants

(flăj`ələnts, fləjĕl`ənts), term applied to the groups of Christians who practiced public flagellation as a penance. The practice supposedly grew out of the floggings administered as punishment to erring monks, although flagellation as a form of religious expression is an ancient usage. Among the flagellants it was an extreme expression of the ascetic ideal. Self-flagellation as a penance was approved by the early Christian church. However, the flagellant movement itself did not appear until the 13th cent., and it was not until c.1260 that the flagellants grew into large, organized bodies. Arising in the towns of N Italy, the movement spread across the Alps to Germany, Bohemia, and even to Poland. Bands of flagellants marched from town to town and in public places bared their backs and beat each other and themselves, all the while exhorting the people to repent. The disorderly and morbid nature of these exhibitions led civil and ecclesiastical authorities to suppress them. The movement died down, although it occasionally reappeared, especially in Germany in 1296 and in Italy under the leadership of Venturino of Bergamo. During the general societal confusion that accompanied the Black Death (1348–49) it flared up again. From the East bands of flagellants spread across Hungary and Germany, to S Europe and even to England, where no converts were gained. In 1349, Pope Clement VI prohibited the practice. Heretical flagellant sects such as the Bianchi of Italy and France (c.1399) and the followers of Karl Schmidt (c.1414) were suppressed; milder forms of flagellation were tolerated, however, and even encouraged by such leaders as St. Vincent Ferrer. There was a reappearance of public flagellation within the church after the Reformation. Catherine de' Medici and King Henry III of France encouraged flagellant orders, but Henry IV forbade them. The Jesuits after a time abandoned this public penance, and the practice died out again, although tertiaries from time to time degenerated into flagellant groups. In Spanish America flagellant orders persisted, usually in defiance of the ecclesiastical disapproval; in New Mexico the Hermanos Penitentes, a flagellant order, is said to practice secret rites today.

flagellants

various Christian sects practising self-punishment. [Christian Hist.: Brewer Note-Book, 331–332]

Flagellants

groups of Christians who practised public flagellation as penance. [Christian Hist.: NCE, 959]
References in periodicals archive ?
Chapter 4--"Whipping Up Community"--discusses the fourteenth-century altarpiece The Martyrdom of Saint Sebastian and Scenes from His Life and medieval flagellant processions with Ron Athey's queer performance Judas Cradle.
Flagellants joined martyrs, hermits, and mystics as religious figures who attempted to understand Christ through renunciation.
Indeed its spread may lead to irreversible catastrophe in the same way the flagellants may have hastened the spread of the Bubonic plague in 14th century Europe.
The flagellant confraternities met periodically to perform rounds of self-flagellation, for the sins of the members and for the city.
Gradually, the Colloquium lost its character as an impromptu gathering of the faithful where -- usually slightly chaotic -- ad hoc sessions were formed, where one could try to muster support for one's pet project, and where the business meeting habitually started with a flagellant ceremony expressing the Super-Egos' confession of guilt that 'we' -- that is, the EGOS core group -- were a 'revolving oligarchy', and had not done what we had promised to do at the previous business meeting.
Gladstone was most likely a flagellant, who atoned for sin by mortification of the flesh.
Gibson has two chapters on the flagellation of children at home and school that also cover flagellant advertisements, accounts of governesses' cruelty based on the memories of their students, and flagellant correspondence columns.
Hart and Sacks mockingly refer to this response to poorly framed legislation as the "flagellant theory of statutory interpretation." P.
Later he wrote several collections of short stories and such novels as L'Homme presse (1941; "The Harried Man"), Le Flagellant de Seville (1951; "The Flagellant of Seville"), and Tais-toi (1965; "Be Quiet").
Richard Ellsworth Day told Brainerd's story in Flagellant on Horseback (1950).
Where Baxter, however much he disguised himself as the Catholic flagellant, was always something of a protestant prophet for whom drugtakers and drop-outs figured apocalyptically, the Freed poets were enthusiastically engaged in counter-cultural activity without seeking to turn that activity into religion, mysticism or vatic social pronouncement.