Quaeritur: I recently read about the indulgences formerly attached to being touched by the ‘penitential wand’ in Rome in the Raccolta. I’ve been trying to find more information about this practice online, all to no avail. I wonder if you could write about it? Seems like something as ‘rigid’ as this could do us well these days!

Respondio: The penitential mentula or ferula, the bocchino penitenziario, wand, or rod is encountered the world over, and not merely in Rome. It varies in length and girth, and while it is not always used in a penitential capacity, it is nevertheless not uncommonly employed in such a ritual. Since not every man can be a wizard every time.


Fig. 1: Not unlike “Expecto Patronum,” pictured. Note the urgency of the need reflected in facial expression.

Deaconette herself was touched by such a penitential wand just last night in a typical ritual. In form, the celebration usually follows this outline: The bearer extends the wand with an expressed or implied spell of “Expecto Maritum,”(Fig. 1) and invitation to recollection of the sin to be expiated. With the essential, if somewhat reluctant, consent of the enthralled, the penance then commences.

Deaconette has been on pilgrimage to the temple of her Mother-in-Law  for the Feast of the Nativity, and has been temporarily domiciled in a nearby hostel. This state of affairs has caused her frequent regrettable behaviors and utterances. She was prepared for reception of the wand with a reminder of her sin, to wit that she had lied about a headache earlier in the day, and also a warning that it might be a while until the appropriate place and minister for the celebration again presented themselves because she planned to get up while it was still dark for an early-morning airline flight.

Her penance last night consisted in solemn reflection on work undone, a suitcase that was as yet unpacked, directions to the rental car return still unconsulted, and the possibility of additional soiled laundry to take with her on her trip, while devotedly ejaculating the previously memorised formulae “Oh that’s it, yeah, right there, you’re so good, mmm, keep it up baby.” Deaconette’s penance ran to excessive length and so thus also included six clock radio observations; some mortification of the flesh involving a brassiere clasp and a TV remote unaccountably left on the bed; a passing meditation on calling her mother and whether there was a cold beverage in the minibar, and then  concluded with some jointly intoned Divine praises. All this she did without voicing complaint, to the greater glory of sacramental marriage. (Luckily, no whipping of this penitent was involved.)

Deaconette devoutly hopes that her generous submission to the will of another resulted in the release of some souls from purgatory, as the expiation seemed a foretaste of that sorrowful condition to herself.

As to finding more information about this practice online, Deaconette desires you avoid temptation and the near occasion of sin. She has gone to YouTube to procure for you instead this explanatory scene from a popular entertainment, which is much cited in the usual literature.

Finally, on the possibility that Deaconette’s husband happens to read this entry, she wishes to confess to him that sometimes her posts are hyperbolic in their nature, and that you’re totally a wizard, sweetie, always. You never fail to amaze her. Thy rod and thy staff, they giveth her comfort.


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