Apologia: The Fullness of Christian Truth


``Where the Bishop is, there let the multitude of believers be;
even as where Jesus is, there is the Catholic Church'' Ignatius of Antioch, 1st c. A.D


Devotion to
the Five Wounds

Man of Sorrows, by Hans Memling, ca 1490

 

Isaias 53:3-5: "Despised, and the most abject of men, a man of sorrows, and acquainted with infirmity: and His look was as it were hidden and despised, whereupon we esteemed Him not. Surely He hath borne our infirmities and carried our sorrows: and we have thought Him as it were a leper, and as one struck by God and afflicted. But He was wounded for our iniquities, He was bruised for our sins: the chastisement of our peace was upon him, and by His bruises we are healed."

John 20:27-28: "Then He saith to Thomas: Put in thy finger hither, and see My Hands; and bring hither thy hand, and put it into My side; and be not faithless, but believing. Thomas answered, and said to Him: My Lord, and my God."

 
 
Because of His Wounds, because His Sacred, Precious Blood was spilt, you have the opportunity to see the Face of God. That's Christianity in a nutshell, something that every Christian knows, but too few truly ponder enough. Of course, we Catholics have always meditated on Christ's Passion -- each Mass is a re-presentation of His Sacrifice, and, in addition, the Stations of the Cross is a standard Lenten devotion, and the Sorrowful Mysteries of the Rosary remind us of what He went through for us. But we also have another devotion available to us, one that helps us meditate more concretely on His sufferings: devotion to His Five Sacred Wounds.

Private revelation to St. Bridget of Sweden indicated that all the wounds Our Lord suffered added up to 5,480 1. She began to pray 15 prayers each day in honor of each of these wounds, their total after a year being 5,475; these "Fifteen Prayers of St. Bridget of Sweden" are still prayed today. Likewise, in Southern Germany, it became the practice to pray 15 Our Fathers a day in honor of Christ's wounds so that by the end of a year, 5,475 Paters were prayed.
Passion Flower
The five main wounds He suffered, though -- the wound in each Foot, the wound in each Hand, and the wound in His side caused by St. Longinus's lance -- are symbolic of all the wounds, and special devotion to them arose very early on. St. John the Divine is said to have appeared to Pope Boniface II (d. A.D. 532) and revealed a special Mass -- the "Golden Mass" -- in honor of Christ's Five Wounds, and it is the effect of these Five Wounds that are most often produced in the bodies of the men and women who imitate Him best -- the stigmatics. St. Francis being the first of these, his spiritual daughter, St. Clare, developed a strong devotion to the Five Wounds, as did the Benedictine St. Gertrude the Great, and others.

Honor is shown to these Sacred Wounds in many small ways, too -- from the 5 grains of incense inserted into the Paschal Candle, to the custom of dedicating each Pater said in the body of the Dominican Rosary to one of the Five Wounds. They are symbolized in art by the Jerusalem Cross, 5 circles on a Cross, 5 roses, and the 5-pointed star, and they are seen as symbolized by many things in nature -- from the stamens of the Passion Flower, the 5 seeds found in the almost perfect 5-pointed star in a cross-sectioned apple, to the Sand Dollar. And there are special prayers to honor them, too.

 
Prayer in Honor of the Five Wounds

Act of Contrition

As I kneel before Thee on the cross, most loving Saviour of my soul, my conscience reproaches me with having nailed Thee to that cross with these hands of mine, as often as I have fallen into mortal sin, wearying Thee with my base ingratitude. My God, my chief and perfect good, worthy of all my love, because Thou hast loaded me with blessings; I cannot now undo my misdeeds, as I would most willingly; but I loathe them, grieving sincerely for having offended Thee, Who art infinite goodness. And now, kneeling at Thy feet, I try, at least, to compassionate Thee, to give Thee thanks, to ask Thee pardon and contrition; wherefore with my heart and lips, I say:

To the Wound of the Left Foot

Holy wound of the left foot of my Jesus, I adore Thee; I compassionate Thee, O Jesus, for the most bitter pain which Thou didst suffer. I thank Thee for the love whereby Thou laboured to overtake me on the way to ruin, and didst bleed amid the thorns and brambles of my sins. I offer to the Eternal Father the pain and love of Thy most holy humanity, in atonement for my sins, all of which I detest with sincere and bitter contrition.

Recite one Our Father, one Hail Mary, and one Glory Be

Holy Mother, pierce me through,
In my heart each wound renew
Of my Saviour crucified.

To the Wound of the Right Foot

Holy wound of the right foot of my Jesus, I adore Thee; I compassionate Thee, O Jesus, for the most bitter pain which Thou didst suffer. I thank Thee for that love which pierced Thee with such torture and shedding of blood, in order to punish my wanderings and the guilty pleasures I have granted to my unbridled passions. I offer the Eternal Father all the pain and love of Thy most holy humanity, and I pray Thee for grace to weep over my sins with hot tears, and to enable me to persevere in the good which I have begun, without ever swerving again from my obedience to the divine commands.

Recite one Our Father, one Hail Mary, and one Glory Be

Holy Mother, pierce me through,
In my heart each wound renew
Of my Saviour crucified.

To the Wound of the Left Hand

Holy wound of the left hand of my Jesus, I adore Thee; I compassionate Thee, O Jesus, for the most bitter pain which Thou didst suffer. I thank Thee for having in Thy love spared me the scourges and eternal damnation which my sins have merited. I offer to the Eternal Father the pain and love of They most holy humanity: and I pray Thee to teach me how to turn to good account my span of life, and bring forth in it worthy fruits of penance, and to disarm the justice of God, which I have provoked.

Recite one Our Father, one Hail Mary, and one Glory Be

Holy Mother, pierce me through,
In my heart each wound renew
Of my Saviour crucified.

To the Wound of the Right Hand

Holy wound of the right hand of my Jesus, I adore Thee; I compassionate Thee, O Jesus, for the most bitter pain which Thou didst suffer. I thank Thee for Thy graces lavished on me with such love, in spite of all my most perverse obstinacy. I offer to the Eternal Father all the pain and love of Thy most holy humanity; and I pray Thee to change my heart and its affections, and make me do all my actions in accordance with the will of God.

Recite one Our Father, one Hail Mary, and one Glory Be

Holy Mother, pierce me through,
In my heart each wound renew
Of my Saviour crucified.

To the Wound of the Sacred Side

Holy wound in the side of my Jesus, I adore Thee; I compassionate Thee, O Jesus, for the cruel insult Thou didst suffer. I thank Thee, my Jesus, for the love which suffered Thy side and Heart to be pierced, so that the last drops of blood and water might issue forth, making my redemption to overflow. I offer to the Eternal Father this outrage, and the love of Thy most holy humanity, that my soul may enter once for all into that most loving Heart, eager and ready to receive the greatest sinners, and never more depart.

Recite one Our Father, one Hail Mary, and one Glory Be

Holy Mother, pierce me through,
In my heart each wound renew
Of my Saviour crucified.

 
Chaplet of the Five Wounds

This chaplet, approved by the Holy See on 11 August 1823 (coincidentally, the anniversary of St. Clare's death), consists of five groups of five beads -- each group representing one of the Five Wounds. The first group of beads honors the Wound on His left foot; the second, the Wound on His right foot; the third, the Wound on His left Hand; the fourth, the wound on His right Hand; and the fifth, the Wound in His Side. Sometimes a medal will be attached depicting Our Lord's Wounds on one side, and His Sorrowful Mother on the other.

While meditating on the appropriate Wound at each group, one Gloria is said on each bead, and between the groups, an Ave is said in honor of Mary's sorrows. The Blessing of the Beads used to count these prayers is reserved to the Passionist Order.
 



Footnote:
1 Note that the number of wounds was so great because the flagellum (picture at right) used by the Romans had from three to twelve "tails," each tail embedded repeatedly with bone, iron, or glass intended to rip flesh. With a 12-tail flagellum, 40 strokes would give one 480 wounds if each tail only caused one wound with each stroke. In reality, though, each "tail" would cause many, many times more wounds per stroke, depending on how much bone or iron, etc., was embedded in each strap. In addition to the wounds caused by the scourge, there were the wounds caused by each thorn in the the crown of thorns.




Back to Being Catholic
Index

Quantcast