The Rosary: The Crowning with Thorns

The Crown of Thorns was of great interest to the Faithful of the Late Middle Ages.  This instrument of torture and mocking was as important as the scourging (perhaps in that it added to the number of drops of blood) and also as important as the cross: it was to house the Crown of Thorns that King Louis IX caused to be built the great Sainte Chapelle 

Although we moderns cannot enter the pious hearts of our ancestors, I think we might see something here, if we open our own hearts to Christ, who is the King of All in All Ages: he is crowned not by his own people, but rather by the Army of the then-King-of-the-World. Although the pattern had not yet started, it was the same way that future Emperors of Rome would be crowned by their legions and then brought to Rome.  But here the crowning is a mocking. The mocking is merciless bullying, but it seems odd to put it here. Why did the soldiers do this?

Recently it dawned on me that Jesus was near collapse after the scourging. Ever see someone get drunk at a college party, pass out on the sofa, and then his fraternity buddies will draw pictures on his face? That’s what I see here. Dress him like a king! Crown him with thorns! Laugh and spit! Hey, this is getting boring, slap him and wake him up… yo, prophet dude, who hit you? Bwahahahaha.

Yet in Christ is fulfilled the real meaning of the Divine Kingship that all monarchs share: not only to rule, but to be a bridge and a sacrifice. It is Gentiles at the beginning of his life who hail Christ as king. It is Gentiles at the end of his life who mock him as king again. Do we Gentiles today claim him as king as the wise men did, in sincerity with gifts and honour; or as the Romans did, in mockery, with pain and blood? When you cast your crowns before your King, does it wound him?

The State crucifies, but it is individuals who mock. The state punishes, but it is people who bully. Jesus, thus, experiences pan at the hands of “Church”, State, and individual people. This is the God of Love.

In praying this mystery, I add the embolism “the Word of God incarnate, crowned with thorns by the Romans” after the Holy Name.

In the meditation below, rather than Byzantine hymnody, I have chosen to use verses from the western hymn, O Sacred Head Sore Wounded. There are rather a few more verses than you may be familiar with! At the end of the post, there is a video to let you hear the melody.

The Third Dolorous Mystery:
The Crowning of Christ with Thorns

Let us contemplate, in this Mystery, how those cruel ministers of Satan plaited a crown of thorns and cruelly pressed on the sacred head of our Lord Jesus Christ.

Our Father Who art in Heaven, hallowed be Thy Name; Thy kingdom come; Thy will be done on earth as it is in Heaven. Give us this day our daily bread, and forgive us our trespasses, as we forgive those who trespass against us, and lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil. Amen

O sacred Head, sore wounded, with grief and shame weighed down,
Now scornfully surrounded with thorns, Thine only crown;
How pale Thou art with anguish, with sore abuse and scorn!
How does that visage languish, which once was bright as morn!

Hail, Mary, full of grace, the Lord is with thee; Blessed art thou amongst women, and blessed is the fruit of thy womb, Jesus. Holy Mary, Mother of God, pray for us sinners, now and at the hour of our death. Amen.

Men mock and taunt and jeer Thee, Thou noble countenance,
Though mighty worlds shall fear Thee and flee before Thy glance.
How art thou pale with anguish, with sore abuse and scorn!

How doth Thy visage languish that once was bright as morn!

Hail, Mary, &c.

Now from Thy cheeks has vanished their color once so fair;
From Thy red lips is banished the splendor that was there.
Grim death, with cruel rigor, hath robbed Thee of Thy life;
Thus Thou hast lost Thy vigor, Thy strength in this sad strife.

Hail, Mary, &c.

What Thou, my Lord, hast suffered, was all for sinners’ gain;
Mine, mine was the transgression, but Thine the deadly pain.
Lo, here I fall, my Savior! ’Tis I deserve Thy place;
Look on me with Thy favor, vouchsafe to me Thy grace.

Hail, Mary, &c.

What language shall I borrow to thank Thee, dearest friend,
For this Thy dying sorrow, Thy pity without end?
O make me Thine forever, and should I fainting be,
Lord, let me never, never outlive my love to Thee.

Hail, Mary, &c.

The joy can never be spoken, above all joys beside,
When in Thy body broken I thus with safety hide.
O Lord of Life, desiring Thy glory now to see,
Beside Thy cross expiring, I’d breathe my soul to Thee.

Hail, Mary, &c.

My Savior, be Thou near me when death is at my door;
Then let Thy presence cheer me, forsake me nevermore!
When soul and body languish, oh, leave me not alone,
and take away my sorrow by virtue of Thine own!

Hail, Mary, &c.

My Shepherd, now receive me; my Guardian, own me Thine.
Great blessings Thou didst give me, O source of gifts divine.
Thy lips have often fed me with words of truth and love;
Thy Spirit oft hath led me to heavenly joys above.

Hail, Mary, &c.

Here I will stand beside Thee, from Thee I will not part;
O Savior, do not chide me! When breaks Thy loving heart,
When soul and body languish in death’s cold, cruel grasp,
Then, in Thy deepest anguish, Thee in mine arms I’ll clasp.

Hail, Mary, &c.

Be Thou my consolation, my shield when I must die;
Remind me of Thy passion when my last hour draws nigh.
Mine eyes shall then behold Thee, upon Thy cross shall dwell,
My heart by faith enfolds Thee. Who dieth thus dies well.

Hail, Mary, &c.

Glory be to the Father, and to the Son, and to the Holy Ghost, as it was in the beginning, is now, and ever shall be, world without end. Amen.

O Mother of our Eternal King of Glory, by those sharp thorns wherewith his sacred head was pierced, we beseech thee to obtain, by thine intercession, that we may be delivered from all temptations of pride and escape that shame which our sins deserve on the Day of Judgement. Amen.

Author: Huw Raphael

A Dominican Tertiary living in San Francisco, CA. He is almost 59. He feeds the homeless as a parochial almoner and is studying to be a Roman Catholic Deacon. He is learning modern Israeli Hebrew and enjoys cooking, keto, cats, long urban hikes, and SF Beer Week.

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