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.
For an account of flagellation in antiquity see S.
The custom of collective flagellation was introduced into the monastic houses, the ceremony taking place every Friday after confession.
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.
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.