I Battenti di Verbicaro

During the Holy Week, the week just before Easter, religious rituals that prescribe self-flagellation take place in Calabria, a region in the South of Italy. These rituals have their origin in ancient practices of mortification of the flesh for devotional purpose, as well as for stimulating blood regeneration, virility and vitality. During a brief intimate ceremony the ‘Battenti’, the ones who hurt themselves by beating, hit their thighs heavily with a tool called a ‘Cardillo’, which is a cork with thirteen fragments of glass attached to one end and welded together with wax. After the ceremony, the Battenti appear in public and head towards the Verbicaro’s church. There they mark the churchyard and the jambs of the votive chapels with the blood from their own wounds.