The big religious news yesterday was that a new book out about Pope John Paul II claims that the pope engaged in self-flagellation. According to the Reuters article:
"In his closet, among his vestments, there was hung on a clothes hanger a particular kind of belt for pants, which he used as a whip," Oder writes.For some historical context Christopher Beam has an article over at Slate about mortification in the Catholic Church.
When he was bishop in Poland, he often slept on the bare floor so he could practice self-denial and asceticism, Oder writes.
Many saints of the Church, including St. Francis of Assisi, St Catherine of Siena and St. Ignatius of Loyola, practiced flagellation and asceticism as part of their spiritual life.