Skip to main content


Log in

When Faith and Health Collide: Expressions of Faith Over the Dangers of COVID-19 by Selected Flagellants in the Philippines

  • Published:
Journal of Religion and Health Aims and scope Submit manuscript


For almost three years, the COVID-19 pandemic seriously affected society. Mass gatherings were restricted during the surge, including religious activities and other public practices. However, some Filipinos opted to continue their panata (sacred vow) of self-flagellation during this health crisis, thus putting themselves at risk of being inflicted with the virus or being a spreader. This article explores the experience of selected flagellants who continued to fulfill their religious practice amid the pandemic. It draws inspiration from their narratives about their personal experiences of how they faced, struggled, and hoped to battle the “unseen” virus and the criticisms of others for what they did. Using interpretative phenomenological analysis (IPA), their interview transcripts elicit three recurrent themes: Suffering leads to finding God for support, sacred vow as unity to Christ’s suffering, and spiritual reward over physical pain. These themes can contribute to future research on how opposing parties should negotiate when faith and health conflict.

This is a preview of subscription content, log in via an institution to check access.

Access this article

Price excludes VAT (USA)
Tax calculation will be finalised during checkout.

Instant access to the full article PDF.

Fig. 1
Fig. 2

Similar content being viewed by others


Download references


The researchers acknowledge all the participants/selected flagellants for their thoughtful sharing of personal experiences regarding their self-flagellation practice amid the COVID-19 pandemic. This research is also dedicated to those struggling with faith in God due to the effects of the health crisis.


This study received no funding outside of the authors’ expense.

Author information

Authors and Affiliations


Corresponding author

Correspondence to Dalmacito A. Cordero Jr.

Ethics declarations

Conflict of interest

The authors declare that there is no conflict of interest.

Human and Animal Rights

This article does not contain any studies with animals performed by the author.

Informed Consent

Informed consent was explained well and signed by all the participants.

Additional information

Publisher's Note

Springer Nature remains neutral with regard to jurisdictional claims in published maps and institutional affiliations.

Rights and permissions

Springer Nature or its licensor (e.g. a society or other partner) holds exclusive rights to this article under a publishing agreement with the author(s) or other rightsholder(s); author self-archiving of the accepted manuscript version of this article is solely governed by the terms of such publishing agreement and applicable law.

Reprints and permissions

About this article

Check for updates. Verify currency and authenticity via CrossMark

Cite this article

Cordero, D.A., Leal, M.L. When Faith and Health Collide: Expressions of Faith Over the Dangers of COVID-19 by Selected Flagellants in the Philippines. J Relig Health (2024).

Download citation

  • Accepted:

  • Published:

  • DOI: