Find accurate definitions of over 5,000 Catholic terms and phrases (including abbreviations). Based on Fr. John Hardon's Modern Catholic Dictionary, © Eternal Life. Used with permission.
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Groups of fanatical persons who performed or administered physical penances in public. Though condemned by the popes several times, they always reappeared. Their exaggerated pretensions developed into heresy, particularly in the late Middle Ages. In modern times self-flagellation in private and in moderation is a recognized form of penance and devotion. (Etym. Latin flagellare, to whip, scourge, lash.)