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Some 20,000 people took part in the ceremony at the Colosseum in Rome, which was dedicated to victims of conflict
Some go to extreme lengths to atone for sins or seek divine intervention in rituals frowned on by the Church
Participation in the Lenten festival has become a religious vow for residents -- men and women
Pope Francis thanked the priests for the “hidden good” that they do, often carried out “with great effort and little recognition"
Do we need to scourge our backs until they bleed to show atonement for our sins?
The Seven Churches Visitation (or Pilgrimage) is credited as beginning in Rome with St. Philip Neri in the 1500s