Public penance is when a penance for a sin requires public satisfaction as a condition for absolution and reconciliation with God. It was popular in the early Middle Ages, most notably in 1174 when Henry II was required to walk barefoot to the shrine of St. Thomas of Becket for playing a role in his murder. More typically a public penance was required to when the sin had a public nature, such as giving rise to scandal.

Generally public penance did not include an identification in public of the sinner, though it is possible that an astute observer might be able to infer a sin.

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