Note:  Do not rely on this information. It is very old.


Penance, a punishment for fault or sin, self-inflicted or voluntarily submitted to. Most religions of the world have encouraged the idea that voluntary suffering expiates some of the effects of sin, among such religions being notably the Jewish, the Hindu, and the Christian. In the early Christian Church penance might be private, as a sequel to confession; public, in which the punishment, if not the confession, was in the presence of the congregation, and solemn, in which case the penitent was barred, for a longer or shorter time, from greater or lesser church privileges. Solemn penance lasted in the Eastern Church till the fourth century, and in the Western till the seventh, its place being then taken by pilgrimages and the like. In the Roman Church penance is a sacrament, and consists of three parts - contrition, confession, and satisfaction, which are followed by absolution. Some Protestant bodies have endeavoured to reintroduce the ancient practice of public penance.