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Flagellants

A sect of enthusiasts in the middle of the thirteenth century, who went in procession about the streets inflicting on themselves daily flagellations, in order to merit thereby the favour of God. They were put down soon after their appearance, but revived in the fourteenth century. Also called “Brothers of the Cross.”

Source: Dictionary of Phrase and Fable, E. Cobham Brewer, 1894
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