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The use of the cilice on the upper thigh is a prominent signature trait of Silas, a fictional member of Opus Dei, and one of the lead antagonists in Dan Brown's novel, The Da Vinci Code.

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A cilice was originally a garment or undergarment made of coarse cloth or animal hair (a hairshirt). In more modern religious circles, the word has come to simply mean an object that can be worn to induce some degree of discomfort or pain.

Modern usage

In more recent times the word has come to refer not to a hairshirt, but to a spiked metal belt or chain worn strapped tight around the upper thigh. Many religious orders within the Roman Catholic Church have used the cilice as a form of "corporal mortification," but in recent years it has become known as a practice of numeraries (celibate lay people) of Opus Dei, a personal prelature of the Roman Catholic Church. It is worn for two hours a day, and while it causes discomfort, it does not draw blood or even break the skin. Paola Binetti, the conservative Italian senator and member of Opus Dei, is one modern figure known to wear the cilice. According to the American Catholic writer John Allen, Jr., its practice in the Catholic Church is "more widespread than many observers imagine." In modern times it has been used by Blessed Mother Teresa, Saint Padre Pio, and slain archbishop Óscar Romero.

See also

Unless indicated otherwise, the text in this article is either based on Wikipedia article "Cilice" or another language Wikipedia page thereof used under the terms of the GNU Free Documentation License; or on research by Jahsonic and friends. See Art and Popular Culture's copyright notice.

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