Wednesday, August 23, 2017

'No selfies' declares Italian religious festival in which men in white hoods flagellate themselves




 


The organisers of an unusual Italian religious festival in which penitents in white hoods and robes flagellate themselves until they bleed have imposed a new rule for the event this year – strictly no selfies.

Thousands of tourists are expected to descend on the medieval village of Guardia Sanframondi in the southern region of Campania this week to witness hundreds of locals beat themselves on the chest until the blood flows.

The penitents are known as “battenti”, or “beaters”, who scour themselves with corks containing metal spikes.

The event is held every seven years and organisers say the problem of selfies was not an issue last time because very few people had smart phones.

 
Penitents known as 'battenti' beat themselves on the chest during the procession. Credit: AFP

Nick Squires, Rome 23 August 2017 • 4:09pm


The procession is held once every seven years. Credit: AFP

“There should be no selfies with the ‘battenti. It’s better for people to concentrate on the religious aspect and to experience a wonderful day of spirituality, which is a rare thing these days,” said the mayor of the village, Floriano Panza.

“Seven years ago there weren’t many smart phones,” he told La Repubblica newspaper.

The religious festival, known as the Riti Settennali di Penitenza (Rites of Penance every Seven Years), commemorates the discovery of a Madonna and Child statue in a field hundreds of years ago.

The pious event began earlier this week and is due to climax on Sunday with a grand procession of several hundred “battenti”, who will follow the statue of the Madonna through the winding streets and alleys of the village.


             The last time the event was held was in 2010. Credit: Getty
They strike their chests with an object known as a “spugna” – that normally means sponge in Italian but in this case it is a disc of cork inlaid with needles.

They will be joined by a smaller number of “flagellanti” – similarly-dressed men who flog themselves with metal scourges.

Attendants pour white wine over the penitents to disinfect and clean their wounds.

The “flagellanti” and the “battenti” are supposed to remain anonymous – not even their families are meant to know they are taking part in the procession.

The town, which has a population of around 5,000, lies north-east of Naples.

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