Holy week, Coronavirus: the return of the Lashers?

Semaine sainte, Coronavirus: le retour des Flagellants?

For the first time in history, mankind is facing a pandemic is truly global. The anxiety that it arouses in the population of the world is amplified by the immediacy and globalisation of the news media that broadcast 24h/24. Results: stress, depression, discouragement, feeling of panic, premonition gloomy.

In the past, people attributed often the phenomena deadly as the pandemic was a divine punishment. Of serious social disturbances, unexpected (famines, wars, epidemics, etc) that gave birth to religious movements, self-masochistic. In the mode of a christian, is to inflict pain has always been linked to piety, and that pleasure, especially physical pleasure, is associated with the sin.

With the current pandemic, the conditions are therefore met for the return of the religious feeling and the blossoming of movements such as that of the Lashers of the Middle Ages. They believed that flogging would allow them to atone for their sins, those of their society and go to heaven after the Apocalypse. Marching in a procession, naked to the waist, they are whipped publicly in singing hymns imploring the mercy of God.

The famine of 1258, the plague of 1259, and incessant warfare had plunged Italy into misery and despair. People saw it as a curse of god for the sins of men. In order to atone for appeared the first self-flogging collective. The movement of the Lashers took a considerable size and scope on the occasion of the greatest contagion of the Middle Ages: the black Plague. Introduced by the mongol hordes that broke over Europe in 1346-1347, the pandemic of bubonic plague did in 5 years (1347-1352) approximately 25 million victims, killing 30% to 50% of the population of Europe. The european countries most affected by the current pandemic of the sars coronavirus, Italy, Spain, France were also ravaged by the black Plague.

In 1348, pope Clement VI allows to Avignon, then the seat of the papacy, processions of Lashers in supplication against the plague. The rapid spread of the disease, in spite of these repentances self-masochistic, troubled the ecclesiastical authorities. The faculty of medicine of the Sorbonne assures them that the black Plague was not God’s revenge, but the result of a conjunction of the stars which led to an unhealthy air.

Reassured, the pope condemned the movement and prohibited its processions in October 1349. The Lashers, which develop in response to deviance heretics, then become a cult on the defensive. Anticipating Martin Luther, the lashers German mutèrent by enemies of the Church: condemning the clergy, denying his authority supernatural, repudiating even the eucharist as absurd. The Lashers also played a significant role in the major massacres of Jews that followed the black Plague. In 1369, the draconian measures of the Inquisition against them resulted to contain the sect, but not to eradicate it completely. It remains, even today there are remnants.

Processions of Lashers to the hood are always held in various catholic countries during Lent, holy Week and other religious holidays.

In the Philippines, on the occasion of Easter of the lashers will whip their backs with bamboo sticks to mimic the scourging of Christ. Others devote themselves even to bloody crucifixions expiatory. These rituals easter are condemned by the catholic authorities in the country.

Every seven years, at the feast of the Assumption, in the village of Guardia Sanframondi in Italy, men in balaclavas marched in to whip until the blood in the name of the Virgin Mary. The ritual is celebrated since centuries. Penitents self-masochites wearing balaclavas to hide their identities, even from their families, beat their chest bare with a disk pierced with nails or the back with a metal chain.

Attention: it is forbidden for tourists to take égoportraits with the penitents.

There would also be secret societies of Lashers mystics whose ceremonies would be, as it should be, underground. Something to inspire a thriller with the likes of Dan Brown!

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