The Mystery of the Crown of Thorns
by A Passionist Father
Preserving Christian Publications, Inc.
Albany, NY


  This memorable century was illustrated by more than thirty Saints and eminent servants of God who are now venerated upon our altars, illustrious among these we find St. Andrew Corsini, St. John Neupumucen, the protomartyr of the Sacramental seal of Confession; St. Bridget of Sweden with her angelic daughter St. Catherine and admirable virgin in the marriage state. St. Mectildes, St. Juliana Falconeri and St. Catherine of Siena belong to this century. During this Epoch at least twenty-three Saints and great servants of God, were adorned with the glorious stigmata of the Passion or with the mystic crown of thorns. St. Catherine of Siena claims our special attention.

3. St. Catherine of Siena

        This great Saint was born in Siena, an ancient city of Tuscany, Italy, in the year 1347. She joined the third Order of St. Dominic when very young. This holy religious received the sacred stigmata of the Five Wounds and the Crown of Thorns at twenty-eight years of age. On this occasion, the Saint being sorely afflicted on account of various calumnies raised against her honor and reputation, our Divine Savior appeared to her with a crown of gold, all inlaid with pearls and precious stones in His right hand, and holding in His left a Crown of Thorns, and affectionately said to her: know my dear daughter that you must of necessity be crowned some time or other, with one of these two crowns. Therefore take your choice; either the Crown of Thorns in this transitory life, and have the other reserved for your everlasting glory; or take the crown of gold at present and hereafter that of thorns. "It is a long time, O Lord, answered the holy virgin, since I have made an entire renunciation of my own will to follow but Yours, and consequently, it is not for me to choose anything. If, however, You will  have me to answer, I desire to select that which is most acceptable to Your Divine Heart: and the better to imitate Your example, I do most willingly accept the crown of suffering and ignominy." Having said this, St. Catherine took from our Savior's left hand the Crown of Thorns and placed it upon her head, she fervently pressed it down with such force, that from that time this illustrious Saint always endured an intense pain in her head, caused by the miraculous hidden thorns which continually pierced it.

         During her short life, this admirable servant of God worked hard and suffered much for the welfare of the Church in general, and for her native country in particular. She died in Rome while on her mission of charity, April 29th, 1380, when scarcely thirty-three years old. St. Catherine was canonized by Pope Pius II, 80 years after her holy death. Her body is preserved incorrupt in the magnificent Dominican Church of Santa Maria Della Minerva in the Eternal City, of which she has been declared by the present Pope Pius IX, one of its principal patron Saints. The left hand of this holy religious is kept in a rich reliquary in the convent of St. Sixtus and St. Dominic on the Palatine hill in Rome, and her left foot is preserved as a precious relic in the city of Venice, on both of which members the miraculous impressions of the sacred stigmas are at this moment plainly visible. [Bolland. Acta s.s 55. 30th April]

  4. Bridget of Holland

         Very little is known of this servant of God. She was a Dominican Nun and received the stigmata of the Five Wounds and the impression of the Crown of Thorns of our crucified Savior. She died in the year 1390. [See Marchese 23rd July]

  5. Maria of Massa

          Maria, called of Massa, from her native town in Tuscany, Italy, became, when young, a Franciscan Nun in the city of Fuligno. Through ardent devotion to the Crown of Thorns, she obtained from our blessed Lord, the privilege of sharing every Friday, during many years of her life, His sufferings in her head, which she endured in the most edifying manner. This servant of God was living in the year 1340. [See Harturas and Hueber 20th, September]

  6. Blessed [Now Saint] Rita of Cascia

          This holy servant of God was born in 1386, at Cascia, a town in Humbria in the States of the Church. In obedience to her parents she consented to be married. After the death of her husband, Rita entered the convent of the Augustinian Nuns of the strict observance, where she received the impression of the Crown of Thorns. Her death occurred May 14th, 1456. She was beatified by Pope Urban VII in 1627. Her body was incorrupt in 1682. [Bolland. Acta s.s 55. 22nd, May]


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