Christ’s thorn, or Paliurus spina-christi (plant)
is prickly or thorny shrub, of the buckthorn
family (Rhamnaceae). P. spina-christi is native to southern Europe and
Asia. It grows about 20 feet tall and is sometimes cultivated in
hedges. The alternate leaves are oval and finely toothed.
small, greenish yellow flowers grow in small clusters; some varieties
have red blossoms; the leaves may be more elongated, also.
Although the soldiers who so spitefully crowned our Lord with these
sharp spiny thorns did not know, thorns and their branches symbolize
grief, tribulation, and sin. According to the Angelic Doctor, St.
Thomas Aquinas, thorn bushes suggest the minor sins, and growing briars
or brambles, the greater ones. The crown of thorns placed on Christ's
precious head before His Crucifixion was actually meant as a parody of
the Roman emperor's festal crown of roses. Christ was truly "the Man of
Sorrows" who took on our sins.
In the Traditional Roman rite, the tonsure is conferred before
ordination on the future priest as a reverent reminder and in honor of
our Savior's crown of thorns, for he, too, is to be crucified with
Christ. The tonsure is a small circle of the head which is formed by
shaving that portion of the hair away. In some religious orders, the
tonsure is maintained for life.
Some Saints also have the Crown of Thorns as their symbol, for
Martyrdom, whether dry or by blood. One such Saint is St. Catherine of
Siena. View her with the crown of thorns:
Image 1------Image 2------Image 3
Saint Catherine also received the stigmata from Christ.
VIEW THE SPINA CHRISTI:
A CROWN FORMED FROM THE THORNY BRIARS
THE GREEN PLANT ITSELF
THE YELLOW BLOSSOMS IN CLUSTERS