HOLY WOUNDS DEVOTION
FRIDAY AFTER THE
THIRD SUNDAY OF LENT
HOLY WOUNDS DEVOTION
FRIDAY AFTER THE THIRD SUNDAY OF LENT
“He was pierced for our transgressions….and by His Wounds we are Healed.”
The Five Holy Wounds or Five Sacred Wounds are the five piercing wounds Jesus suffered during the Crucifixion – the nail wounds on His Hands and Feet as well as the lance wound which pierced His Side.
“Moreover, the Five Wounds of Christ are honoured by a Mass and an Office, and on account of these wounds we venerate also the Feet, Hands and Side of the most Loving Redeemer, these parts of Our Lord’s most Holy Body being held more worthy of a Special Adoration than the others, precisely because they suffered special pains for our salvation, and because they are decorated with these wounds as with an illustrious Mark of Love.” Nikolaus Nilles, 1885
Theologically, the Wounds were the Channels through Which Christ’s Blood was spilled. This “Precious Blood” sealed for Christians a New Covenant to replace the old covenant of Moses. Whereas once a sacrificial lamb was offered to God in atonement for sins, now Divine Blood from the Only Victim pure enough to atone for all of humanity’s transgressions was offered. Thus, Christ’s Death was a Perfect Sacrifice that destroyed the power of sin, and therefore death, over humanity. Particular significance is offered to the lance wound from which flowed Blood and Water.
The Blood is linked with the Eucharistic Blood received at Masses and The Water with the cleansing of original sin at Baptism (the two sacraments believed to be necessary to achieve eternal life. Thus, the Church, just as Eve issued from the side of Adam, is considered to be mystically born of Christ’s Wounds via the sacraments. The Blood of Christ’s Sacrifice will wash and therefore Purify and Redeem the Church.
It was through the revival of religious life and the zealous activity of St Bernard and St Francis in the twelfth and thirteenth centuries, combined with the enthusiasm of the Crusaders returning from the Holy Land, which gave impetus for devotion to His Holy Wounds.
Many medieval prayers devoted to His Holy Wounds were written, including a Litany attributed to St Clare of Assisi. Saints Mechtilde and Gertrude were also devoted to the Holy Wounds.
Praying in honour of the 5 Holy Wounds of Christ became a popular devotion throughout Europe. In 14th century Germany, fifteen Our Fathers were often recited every day in memory of of the Holy Wounds. Elsewhere it was customary to ring a bell at noon on Fridays, to remind the faithful to recite five Our Fathers and Hail Marys in remembrance of His Wounds.
The Special Mass in honour of Christ’s Wounds, believed to have been composed by St John the Evangelist and revealed to Pope Boniface II. Known as the Golden Mass; during its celebration five candles were always lighted. It was popularly held that if anyone should say or hear it on five consecutive days he should never suffer the fiery pain of hell.