Crown of Thorns (Relic)

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According to some authorities it is likely that the Christ's crown of thorns was helmetlike in form, rather than a circlet. The type of thorn used was the jujube, now known as the zizyphus spina Christi, abundant in the Jerusalem area, producing both straight and curved spines, similar to existing relics. The relic of the crown of thorns was venerated at Jerusalem for many centuries. Individual thorns were dispersed as relics elsewhere. The relic was taken to Byzantium about 1063. In 1238, Baldwin II gave it to St. Louis of France. The famous Sainte-Chapelle in Paris was erected in 1248 to conserve this relic. Besides thorns from the actual crown at authentic shrines, there are also many thorns venerated that have merely touched the alleged originals.

Bibliography: f. d. de mÉly, La Croix des premiers croisés; La Sainte Lance; La Sainte Couronne, v.3 of p. e. riant, Exuviae sacrae Constantinopolitanae, 3 v. (Geneva 18771904). c. rohault de fleury, Mémoire sur les instruments de la Passion (Paris 1869). r. gorman, The Last Hours of Jesus (New York 1960).

[j. mead/eds.]