Cornelius Adriaensen

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Franciscan padre Cornelius Adriaensen whipping women penitents with birch rods. Popular engraving, 17th century.

Cornelius Adriaensen was a 16th-century Franciscan priest.

According to the book Historia flagellantium (History of flagellation) by abbé Jacques Boileau, which was published in 1700, Cornelius Adriaensen would take pleasure in whipping young female acolytes for penance, and tenderly touch their naked buttocks and thighs with his rods of willow and birch. This was cited as one of many examples, and Boileau even claimed that flagellation was, by its nature, erotically ambivalent and deliberately so.

This book, which was put on the Catholic Church's Index of Prohibited Books by 1703, signals a turn of tides: From 1700 forward, the whip would be identified less with piety or penance than with sexual arousal.