Wounds of Our Lord, Devotion to

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Consists in honoring the wounds in Christ's hands, feet, and side as the channels through which flowed His precious blood in his sacrificial death on the cross. "In him we have redemption through his blood, the remission of sins, according to the riches of his grace" (Eph 1.7). After the Resurrection Our Lord retained the marks of His wounds as badges of triumph. "Jesus came, the doors being closed, and stood in their midst, and said, 'Peace be to you!' Then he said to Thomas, 'Bring here thy finger, and see my hands; and bring here thy hand, and put it into my side; and be not unbelieving, but believing"' (Jn 20.2627).

As the signs of His love in His Passion and death the sacred wounds of Christ were naturally invitations to devotion and imitation to all Christians pondering the Scriptures. St. John Chrysostom, for example, in his homilies on the Gospel of St. John points to Our Lord's deportment in His Passion as motive and model for his congregation (see Homily 83; Jn 18.136). With the Crusades there was a new impetus to devotion to the Passion of Christ. St. Bernard of Clairvaux set the trend, and with his preaching and prestige powerfully promoted special devotion to the five wounds of Our Lord. (see sacred humanity, devotion to the.)

In the Middle Ages many different practices were employed in honoring the wounds of Christ, e.g., offices, hymns, the recitation of the Lord's Prayer every day, even the use of a corona of the five wounds. Many devotional manuals listed prayers and pious activities for private or public use in honor of Our Lord's Passion in general or specifically in honor of His sacred wounds. Usually devotion to the wounds was concerned only with the wounds in His hands, feet, and sacred side. However, in the medieval era there were devout attempts to list all the injuries inflicted on Jesus in the Passion by the crowning with thorns and the scourging, some number greater than 5,000 ordinarily being offered as the total. Obviously, the mathematics of the matter is arbitrary and of small importance, the point being the devout awareness of the reality of Christ's Passion. Various Offices and Masses in honor of the wounds of Our Lord were composed and celebrated locally in different places after the 14th century; none of these was ever extended to the whole Church.

Bibliography: f. prat, Jesus Christ: His Life, His Teaching, and His Work, tr. j. j. heenan, 2 v. (Milwaukee 1950) v.2, bk. 4, ch. 1011; The Theology, of St. Paul, tr. j. l. stoddard, 2 v. (London 192627; repr. Westminster, MD 1958) v.2, bk. 4, ch. 2.

[j. p. bruni/eds.]