On Self-Flagellation, Or Whether You Can Do Penance this Lent

It has recently come to the fore that John Paul II possibly whipped himself every night with a belt that hung in his closet.  The new book, “Why He is a Saint: The True Story of John Paul II,” hangs its claims on the “witness” of 114 people who all claim they heard the whipping from outside of the room at different times.  This story has already received wide attention.  And of course the character Silas in “The Da Vinci Code” has brought penance to the level of hysteria. I bring it up now because as we begin Lent, it is important to once again examine the rationale for self-mortification.   Are there any good reasons, to put it starkly, to whip oneself, and what might they be?

First, some objections. I won’t offer the standard objections offered by those with no background in Christian asceticism. But good objections can be offered along this line by a reader of Andrew Sullivan. Please forgive the lengthy quotation:

Let’s bracket for a moment whether or not this can be worked out within a revealed theology. The question is whether it can be worked out in a natural theology and, more specifically, in a natural morality such as the the “new natural law”, which purports to show that practical reason is capable of arriving at certain conclusions about human behavior irrespective of religious beliefs.

As you know in the NNL, as promulgated by, for example, Germain Grisez, John Finnis, and Robert George, there are “basic goods” that cannot be attacked for the sake of other goods, among those basic goods we find “life”–and it would seem that whipping oneself is tantamount to attacking one’s own life, which includes, as I understand it, one’s bodily integrity. But even if that could be accommodated, there is a more pressing problem: a constant theme in NNL is that one cannot use one’s own body as a mere instrument in order to create a subjective experience in a way that “disintegrates” the unity of body and self.

It seems to me, unless I’m missing something, that something has to give: either the NNL is wrong, or JPII (along with many in our pantheon of saints) committed a moral crime. I just wonder, if I’ve represented the NNL’s position accurately, which horn of this dilemma they’ll choose. Or, they’ll just ignore this problem completely.

We must take this objection seriously.  On a basic human level, without the aid of divine revelation, it can be known that the body cannot be used instrumentally as a means to the end of the soul.  Since the body and soul are one, and since whipping oneself attacks the life of the body, whipping oneself constitutes an attack of one’s own integrity, thus violating a basic human good.  A good spiritual end cannot justify an evil physical means to that end.

Interestingly, this argument comes close to the passionate discussions going on in American Catholicism about torture.  What exactly constitutes torture, and whether it can be used as a means to an end are the key questions.  So, is this case similar? Was John Paul II torturing his body in order to help his spirit?  The ends do not justify the means, so was he thereby sinning?

First, we can say that this case is different since torture seeks to coerce the will, as the Catechism defines it, while John Paul was whipping himself voluntarily.  But still, wasn’t he performing an evil?

Now we get to the fine points of whipping.  I don’t know what to say about those saints who nailed themselves to crosses or whipped themselves until they bled.  So I’m just going to leave them out of it.  But what about John Paul II, who whipped himself and didn’t bleed?  This was a very common practice among Jesuits up until the mid-60’s.  Ignatius even prescribed it in the Spiritual Exercises.  I will reproduce his suggestions in their entirety:

Tenth Addition. The tenth Addition is penance. This is divided into interior and exterior. The interior is to grieve for one’s sins, with a firm purpose of not committing them nor any others. The exterior, or fruit of the first, is chastisement for the sins committed, and is chiefly taken in three ways.

First Way. The first is as to eating. That is to say, when we leave off the superfluous, it is not penance, but temperance. It is penance when we leave off from the suitable; and the more and more, the greater and better — provided that the person does not injure himself, and that no notable illness follows.

Second Way. The second, as to the manner of sleeping. Here too it is not penance to leave off the superfluous of delicate or soft things, but it is penance when one leaves off from the suitable in the manner: and the more and more, the better — provided that the person does not injure himself and no notable illness follows. Besides, let not anything of the suitable sleep be left off, unless in order to come to the mean, if one has a bad habit of sleeping too much.

Third Way. The third, to chastise the flesh, that is, giving it sensible pain, which is given by wearing haircloth or cords or iron chains next to the flesh, by scourging or wounding oneself, and by other kinds of austerity.

Note. What appears most suitable and most secure with regard to penance is that the pain should be sensible in the flesh and not enter within the bones, so that it give pain and not illness. For this it appears to be more suitable to scourge oneself with thin cords, which give pain exteriorly, rather than in another way which would cause notable illness within.

First Note. The first Note is that the exterior penances are done chiefly for three ends: First, as satisfaction for the sins committed; Second, to conquer oneself — that is, to make sensuality obey reason and all inferior parts be more subject to the superior; Third, to seek and find some grace or gift which the person wants and desires; as, for instance, if he desires to have interior contrition for his sins, or to weep much over them, or over the pains and sufferings which Christ our Lord suffered in His Passion, or to settle some doubt in which the person finds himself.

Notice how Ignatius, a good student of Aquinas, avoids body-soul dualism. It is hard for moderns to understand penance, hungover as they are with Cartesian duality.  But Ignatius is careful not to speak of chastising the “body” for the sake of the “soul.”  Instead, there is “interior” and “exterior” penance.  But these are both “physical.”  Or, better, these are both “personal” penance — penance of the person, not of the body or the soul.  Penance of an “exterior” type, on the exterior body (flesh, skin) rather than the interior self (emotions, such as “grief”), includes fasting, sleeping in some discomfort, and self-wounding.  Notice that John Paul did two of these, allegedly.  Ignatius is clear:  These are to be done without causing injury to the self.  And notice that Ignatius does not say that the person is not to injure his body.  No, the person is not to injure himself.

In other words, to make my point without belaboring it, the person, as John Paul II said over and over again, is his own body. I am my body.  My body is me.  There is no dualism.  When one does penance, as Ignatius is clear about, one chastises or corrects, not one’s body, but one’s self, one’s person.  There is no dis-integration. The whole self is chastised.

If one understands John Paul’s theology  and philosophy clearly, then his emphasis on this point is important.  Borrowing from Gabriel Marcel, John Paul was clear that there can be no separation between the person and the body.

So the new question is, can non-coercive, non-injury causing pain of a small nature be inflicted on the person in order to cause a certain disposition of the self that is more in tune to the sufferings of Christ?

I don’t think it’s wrong.  It should still be done carefully and in consultation with a spiritual director.  My goal here is not to justify the act for everyone, but to allow it for some who may be called to a mystical form of penance.  For the rest of us, accepting the trials of our daily lives is probably enough.  But we have all at one time or another wanted to help dispose ourselves for a task at hand, or for a situation.  We would deprive ourselves of things for the sake of making our selves more disposed.  I think that this is what self-flagellation does.

To conclude: penance is of the person, not the body.  This is because there is no such thing as doing “spiritual” penance that is also not “bodily.”  Sitting in meditation for long periods of time?  That is mortifying the brain, which is physical.  Praying the rosary all day? That is mortifying the mouth, the tongue, the fingers, etc.  All penance is of the whole self, the person.  As long as the act itself follows Ignatius’ guidelines of doing no physical harm of a lasting nature, I see nothing wrong with disposing ourselves better to reflect on the mysteries of Christ’s Passion.

Have a good Lent.  And I always recommend a spiritual director.

23 Responses to On Self-Flagellation, Or Whether You Can Do Penance this Lent

  1. crystal says:

    So the new question is, can non-coercive, non-injury causing pain of a small nature be inflicted on the person in order to cause a certain disposition of the self that is more in tune to the sufferings of Christ?

    I understand what you are saying about dualism and a person being an integrated body and soul. But I don’t understand why it’s thought that suffering will make someone a better person.

  2. You don’t think that suffering makes us better people? I think that natural selection in nature has borne this out in the non-personal world. I can think of many friends of mine, and family, who have grown and become better through their sufferings. Actually, without suffering and struggle, I don’t think we can become better. That is the evolutionary way that God set up the world, and freedom just adds a deeper dimension to that arrangement.

    But maybe your question is about Voluntary suffering. Ignatius mentions we can do these to “conquer ourselves” and to achieve a disposition that we want. I think we do this all the time on a natural level. If a husband thinks he is hurting his relationship with his wife by looking at pornography on the internet, he may stop using the internet for a time. This would be to “conquer” himself. The goal is not to hurt himself, but to deepen his relationship with his wife. Penance must always be thought of in the context of a relationship. Maybe he will look straight ahead when he walks, not watch TV as much, etc. All penances on the eyes. Suffering, voluntarily taken on, for the sake of the relationship.

    But these aren’t positive actions, like self-flagellation. Can we imagine the husband doing physical actions that are painful to create a better disposition within himself? An athlete does some sprints, hits himself a couple of times, to get the blood going before a competition. Can we do the same to get our spiritual blood going?

    It is all about disposition forming. Maybe a husband who could wear a piece of twine around his waste under his belt that itches a little to remind himself of chastity. Now, we can remember that, as Ignatius mentions, “interior” penances are always first. These “exterior” ones are less helpful than the “interior” ones. As Joel says, “rend your hearts, not your garments.” But how do we create a disposition of emotional rending of our hearts, sorrow for hurting my wife, etc? Sometimes physical reminders can help.

  3. crystal says:

    Can we imagine the husband doing physical actions that are painful to create a better disposition within himself? An athlete does some sprints, hits himself a couple of times, to get the blood going before a competition. Can we do the same to get our spiritual blood going?

    I think that a husband who liked pornography would not be made a better husband by causing himself physical pain, but instead by examining why he’s drawn to pornography and figuring out how he can order his desires.

    An athlete does exercise in ways that can cause pain, but those exercises are not done in order to cause pain, they’re done to get into better physical condition and the pain is just a side effect. You might say that’s also the case with self-mortification, but although there is a logical connection between doing wind sprints and getting in good shape, there is no necessary connection (that I can see) between hitting oneself and increasing one’s moral goodness.

    I guess I think that maybe the best way to become a better person might be to do good acts that help others, rahter than doing ritualized acts like self-mortification that are not good in themselves. But maybe I’m not understanding this whole subject very well.

  4. Nathan:
    I’d avoid the use of a vocation (marriage) as
    example material for this topic. It is not needed
    unless in a one-on-one discussion! Teenagers reading
    your attempt at clarification may be left unnerved,
    etc. with just too many unintended consequences….

    The topic lends itself to our humanity per se,
    and comes from its fallen nature theology as
    evolved in spiritual practices predating both
    Ignatius and this referenced Pope, who does nothing
    for me on this topic: Thomas A Kempis in
    “The Imitation of Christ” does!

    See the ending to Chapter 25….which
    Ignatius borrows in his advice to Jesuits:
    ‘the more violence I do to myself the more spiritual
    progress I will make!’
    It is a Law of the Spiritual Life. It can’t be explained: articulated only. Because our lives are
    a mystery buried in and with Christ, on the cross
    of life, to experience our particular redemption, later. (He tells us to take up our cross daily!)

    The “Imitation of Christ” remains a spiritual classic
    and accounts in influence for the greatest number
    of Saints! Ignatius was converted after reading it
    among other books, during his convalescence….

    Much of past “mortification of the flesh” was
    premised on incomplete understanding of Motivational
    Psychology, separate from the few who were so
    spiritually led by God, a topic unto itself.

    Today, knowing more about human behaviour, I see
    merit to apply “positive” self-denying practises
    because they will accomplish MORE: they will not
    only deny our will, but also produce external good!

    One can be as creative in this as one’s education
    provides, from doing “spiritual acts” like making
    oneself practise love towards someone one dislikes
    or even hates (doing “Random Acts Of Kindness!”)
    to doing “physical acts” like picking up garbage on
    the street (yes, selectively etc.!) or leaving a
    washroom cleaner than one found it or helping a
    neighbour in need, etc. Since few really love their
    neighbour, this needed focus would be just as hard
    in practicing self-denial, like zipping our tongue
    as in lashing our tongue!!!

    The core focus is the “need” of human nature to
    DENY itself for the purpose of practising Asceticism
    because it works: there is no other short cut to
    spiritual growth. That is just one of many principles
    of our Catholic Tradition of Ascetical & Mystical
    Theology (which arose from studying the lives of
    the capital “S” Saints in order to assist us small
    “s” saints!)!

    Further support for that need is found in the
    Existential Philosophy of Soren Kierkegaard’s
    definition of the “Aesthetic Person,” the Stage One-rs
    of life! All of us start out at the mere “sense”
    gratification level of life!

    One of Catholicism’s greatest mystics, St. John of
    the Cross, even prayed daily, for daily crosses!
    Not to be spared them, but to experience them!
    As his form of practising self-denial!

    Therein and thereby, we all NEED
    ” An Anonymous Asceticism! ”

    Father: may Your Spirit work in us,
    Your will be accomplished through us,
    that we may remain wholly Yours in Christ,
    all the remaining days of our life!!!

  5. “Today, knowing more about human behaviour, I see
    merit to apply “positive” self-denying practises
    because they will accomplish MORE: they will not
    only deny our will, but also produce external good!”

    I agree. And I use the analogy of marriage since I tend to think that, barring the mystical exceptions that you mention, those led by God, if I cannot justify an action in the context of a loving relationship, I can’t justify it with God. Maybe that is off track.

    Crystal, you speak of the logical connection between the action and what it’s supposed to do in the person. For a time on Fridays I wore a pebble in my shoe. The purpose was to remind me all day of Christ’s Passion so that I would pray. There was a logical connection: irritation in foot means pray. That is how I would see a husband using something like this.

    But there can be a deeper logical connection I think. There is a reason that using a cord to whip oneself has been so popular. Without doing physical harm to one’s body, you are experiencing something like Christ and so somehow taking up your cross. Now, I agree this is a “low” form of penance. The “higher” forms are service of the neighbor and everything in Isaiah 58, and then the way of St. Therese, dealing with daily obstacles and learning to unite them to the suffering of the world, summed up in Christ’s. But maybe these smaller ones, as long as done in the way that Ignatius recommends, can also help.

    The problem that I think is real is that Isaiah 58’s penances form us into the community that the Eucharist symbolizes and seeks to create. Self-scourging can easily just be a solipsistic endeavor with no fruit whatsoever.

  6. crystal says:

    Thanks for explaining further.

  7. Henry says:

    Hmm… I must have forgotten to send this so I am sending it again



    I am setting aside my self-imposed Lenten practice of not responding to blogs because your post is too important to overlook – especially during this time of the year when we as a Church are making an effort to revive and inflame our love for Christ!

    I agree, as you point out, that the NNL movement can sometimes give the appearance that Christ is, in some way, not needed but that’s not always the case. But I don’t want to focus on that because that’s not the main point of your post.

    Your post, the image of Silas from the move “The DaVinci Code”, and the terrible title of the book you cite (“Why He is a Saint: The True Story of John Paul II”) clearly demonstrates that we – and I mean we in the Church – do not clearly understand the beauty and relevance of the ascetical life. (In fact, the image of Silas screams out – THIS IS CRAZINESS! – and so it’s an interesting choice for your words, which, compared to the image, whisper.) To overcome this misunderstanding, I recommend a book that was given to me as my “spiritual reading” for this Lent: Spiritual Combat Revisited by Jonathan Robinson of the Oratory (Ignatius Press). So far, it’s very clear and thorough and I highly recommend it!

    Regarding Crystal’s statements: “But I don’t understand why it’s thought that suffering will make someone a better person; and “I guess I think that maybe the best way to become a better person might be to do good acts that help others, rather than doing ritualized acts like self-mortification that are not good in themselves. But maybe I’m not understanding this whole subject very well.” I am glad you posted your observations because if our goal is simply “to be a better person”, then I agree with you that there are better ways to do this. But is that really our goal? Is Christianity simply about self-improvement?

    I think that this is where the misunderstanding begins. After all, our topic does not make sense if it’s removed from the realm of Love! Think of the experience of a person in love, don’t they “mortify” themselves in both “positive” and “negative” ways for the sake of their beloved? When I look at my experience I see that I have done both, when you look at your experience, what do you see?

    Have a great Lent!



  8. crystal says:

    I do think love is at the center of this discussion. If someone is in love, it re-orders their desires, it changes their behavior. But I’m not sure how self-mortification shows love for Jesus/God, unless it’s seen as participating in some way in the suffering of Jesus.

    This probably sounds un-Catholic, especially during Lent, but I’d rather participate in Jesus’ life (and he didn’t seem espcially ascetic himself) than his suffering and death ….. I know the cross is important, but he came to save us from suffering and death, and as David Bentley Hart wrote … even the cross of Christ would not reveal to us the true nature of divine love were it not for the resurrection. In itself, death is not a sign, but only death thus assumed, thus conquered, and thus imitated.

    • Henry says:


      I am confused by your response and so I’d appreciate it if you’d help me understand what you are trying to say.

      First, the phrase “self-mortification” expresses an inner attitude (which Nathan and Virgilijus explain well, in my opinion) and so are you objecting to the phrase or to the inner attitude?

      Second, I’d like to understand why you believe that Jesus was not “especially ascetic Himself”.

      Third, where did you get the Hart quote? – I’d like to read it in context. He, like many Eastern Orthodox Theologians, has some interesting writings but I think that we can easily misunderstand what they write if we don’t have a great familiarity with their approach, which can be very different than Western theologians. One book that I found extremely helpful in this regard is “The Spirituality of the Christian East by Tomas Spidlik, SJ” – can I presume you’ve read it?

      Thanks and I look forward to your replies.



  9. PJ Shelton, SJ says:


    Your argument seems to make sense, but where does common sense come into things? With variety of penaces available to us, is whipping really a justifiable choice? I realize you are trying to show how it fits into the tradition and arguing against mind/body dualism when it comes to penace. Can not a lot of crunches each night before bed achieve the same result?

    At the end of the day, I think it is hard to imagine a God who is pleased that we whip ourselves, even a God who died on the cross. This kind of stuff makes Catholics look horribly crazy and dents our credibility. People fixate on details like self-flagellation and now all the wonderful things JPII will be dismissed.

    I think you are right to highlight JP II’s piety and devotion. But there must be someone who has practiced austere pennace without hurting their “self.” Common sense says we need to uphold people in our tradition that other people can imagine themselves being, not the minority who do strange penaces like whipping themselves.

    Thanks for all your posts. I do enjoy them.

    • Henry says:


      Considering that no two people seem to agree on what “common sense” is, I do not think it is the best “tool” to use when passing judgment on issues related to the way a person follows Christ.

      Here’s an example of what I am trying to say: I can well imagine someone saying to us – right before the lions tear us to shred’s – “Since common sense dictates that any sane person would throw a little bit of incense into the fire, I don’t think what you and PJ are doing is justifiable. Moreover, this kind of stuff makes us Catholics look horribly crazy and dents our credibility”

      Is it therefore possible that Christ is using Nathan’s post as a personal invitation to all of us so we can question our views during this Holy Season of Lent?

      Lastly, regarding the book, I am curious to know if anyone interviewed in it has made any statements that shed light on WHY the Late Great John Paul II engaged in self-flagellation.

      Just some thoughts.



  10. Thanks PJ. I think part of the point is that he was not hurting his “self,” at least in a way that Ignatius would not have approved of, but was more simply setting a disposition. If you’re not drawing blood, it’s not hurting that much. In which case it’s more to point your self in the right direction in terms of prayer and self-orientation towards the Passion.

    “Can not a lot of crunches each night before bed achieve the same result?”

    Possibly. But crunches have little to do symbolically with the Passion, whereas scourging does. So I see what JP was doing as less about the pain, and more about a symbolic action orienting himself nightly towards Christ’s Passion.

    Remember too that we suffer very little compared to most Christians in the world. And a Pope is going to be especially aware of their sufferings in other countries. Should we go “looking for suffering” like JP did? Maybe not. But maybe sometimes God calls us outside of the regular trials of our day to place ourselves in Christian solidarity with suffering missionaries and martyrs throughout the world. But this is not secular solidarity. It is solidarity that flows from the cross and so finds vindication in the cross. It’s not a “healthy reminder” of others who suffer, but a genuine com-passion with them through Christ.

    We need to be careful always of course. We should not start with whipping. We should start with Isaiah 58 penance, acts of love and service, giving up things around the house that we waste time doing, stop over-eating, be healthy, exercise, discipline our minds, etc. But when all of that is done, maybe a little whipping can have a place.

  11. crystal says:


    The easiest place to see where I got the Hart quote is actually at my own blog, this post about an email discussion between him and some others on suffering, after the Indian Ocean tsunami – link

    The reason I said that I thought Jesus wasn’t particularly ascetic was mentions in the NT of people saying he was a glutton and a drunkard. For example, in the reading for today – Mt 9:14-15 – people ask Jesus why his disciples don’t fast. I don’t think (?) he ever suggested any formms of ritual self-punishment to his followers.

    I understand, I think, what you guys are saying about self-mortification, and I respect your views. If I sound otherwise, then I’m sorry because I don’t mean to give that impression. It’s just that self-mortification seems to run counter to the little I have learned myself about love.

    • Henry says:

      Thanks Crystal! I’ve downloaded the text from your blog and I will read it later because I have School of Community tonight. BTW, great cat picture on your blog; and, FYI, I am also a convert. What did you convert from? I converted from Zen Buddhism.

      Forgive me but I intuit that your question / objection has NOT been fully raised and or satisfied and I want to encourage you not to settle but to pursue your desire to the very end. My first question (which you did not answer) – are you objecting to the phrase or to the inner attitude? – was meant to stimulate your thinking.

      Regarding your second paragraph, the problem with “Scriptural ping-pong” is that it presupposes that we are “Bible alone” Christians and here’s what happens: I will counter your citation with a citation from the Gospel read at Mass yesterday (Luke 9:22-25) especially this sentence (emphasis mine): “Then He [Jesus] said to all, “If anyone wishes to come after Me, he must deny himself and take up his cross daily and follow me….” I would then tell you that this verse clearly binds all those who follow Jesus to engage in mortification. You will then counter with another verse, etc., etc., etc. And all this does is make both of us frustrated precisely because our premise – that all Christ wants to reveal to us is contained only in the Scriptures – is erroneous.

      I will write again when I can and I will peruse your blog. Welcome to the Catholic Christian Faith, I hope you have found it to be as fulfilling as I have!



  12. crystal says:

    Thanks, Henry – I’ll think about what you wrote. I was an atheist, though I did spend a little time zen sitting (smile).

  13. Pete Lake says:

    Nathan, thank you for this very illuminating post (and thank you to your readers for their very thoughtful comments and very collegial tone). I agree with you that we should not start our penance with whipping. Maybe, if we are on a journey of penance, we will end up there, but again maybe not. And that makes sense because penance is not a one-size-fits-all activity; it is deeply personal, one-on-one with the penitent and Christ and the priest in the person of Christ. In this regard, it should be pointed out that St. Ignatius was very clear that an exercisant undergoing the Spiritual Exercises should feel free to remain in a certain meditation or stage of the Exercises if that is where he or she has found a connection with Jesus. Likewise, no exercisant should move on if he or she is not ready to do so. Clearly, some discernment (some listening for what Jesus wants us to do) is in order before we perform any whipping. Nathan, with your background and obvious facility with the Spiritual Exercises, you could give an additional perspective on this topic (i.e., the whipping) in light of St. Igantius’s principle and foundation? Thanks!

  14. Joyce Wills says:

    I have great difficulty with the whole idea of “penance”…it was Christ Jesus Who took upon Himself our sins and died a hideous death on the cross….thus enabling us to forsake sin and lean totally upon that death to be the propitiation for us.
    We are not called upon, in Scripture, to “beat” ourselves into submission..we are completely and totally “saved” by His blood…anything we think we have to do or actually do to achieve any good graces in His sight, is pure “works”….we are to lean totally and completely on the finished work of Christ in our lives. Anyone know what “grace” means???

  15. Ole says:

    Even I don`t know, what grace means in this field. I only have to add: Its better to do it, than only to talk about. The more we discuss the subject, the less we`ll perceive and penance should be practised only by very skilled ones and I`m also the opinion, self-flagellation must be done hard without thinking `bout, does it harm or not? Of course it harms badly and finally, thats the aim. How elso can we suffer and how else should we get higher concsiosness and punish our sinful behavior?
    “whipping oneself constitutes an attack of one’s own integrity” thats the reason I do it at night one time a week in a way people would be shocked to see. One time one can feel for thirty minutes, how Jesus suffered..

  16. ‘ I see merit to apply “positive” self-denying practises’… I’m really not sure about this. Love does not involve self harm of any kind.

  17. Ole says:

    Joyce, you wrote “we are completely and totally “saved” by His blood…” I tell you, I did not ask Jesus or anyone else to suffer for my own sins and how can someone suffer for all mankind? It never happened before and I dont understand how these things can happen. I am really not sure about this too, but I know, Jesus would sweep to see how severe some people does self flagellate. How else shall I pay for sind? Thanks for reply in advance!

  18. Ole says:

    I know, its a difficult matter, but I realy wanna know how other people pay for their sins? Finally, no one can be without sins.

    “I don’t know what to say about those saints who nailed themselves to crosses or whipped themselves until they bled.” Of course, flagellations without blood are only for children.

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