Friday, June 27, 2014

The most painful of Jesus' wounds

"The Deposition from the Cross", Gerard David 15th century AD

The wounds of Christ seem a long-settled subject.  We all know about the Five Holy Wounds: the piercing by nails in both hands and feet, and the wound of the lance to Jesus's side.  However, over the centuries mystics and stigmatics have mentioned that the most painful of all Jesus's wounds was none of these, but a hidden wound which is unmentioned in scripture and unknown to all but these few visionaries and stigmatics.  

St. Bernard of Clairvaux (1090 AD - 1153 AD) while in ecstasy asked Christ which of his wounds was most painful, and Our Lord replied: "I had on My Shoulder, . . . a grievous Wound which was more painful than the others and which is not recorded by men."   Likewise, St. Catherine Emmerich (1774 AD - 1824 AD) observed in a vision that Jesus had "a frightful wound on the shoulder which had borne the weight of the Cross."  And while still a young priest, the future St. John Paul II asked the future St. Pio from which of his stigmatic wounds did Padre Pio suffer the most.  Padre Pio answered: "It is my shoulder wound, which no one knows about and has never been cured or treated."  The future pope is the only person to whom Padre Pio ever revealed the existence of this secret wound.

Recently, while making a general investigation of the Shroud of Turin, four doctors and scientists   confirmed the testimony of these saints regarding the all but unknown yet extremely painful wound which Jesus bore on his shoulder.   In the words of their study, published in the medical journal Injury (the study is behind a paywall):

The man whose body appears on the shroud  “underwent an under glenoidal dislocation of the humerus on the right side and lowering of the shoulder, and has a flattened hand and enophthalmos; conditions that have not been described before, despite several studies on the subject. These injuries indicate that the Man suffered a violent blunt trauma to the neck, chest and shoulder from behind, causing neuromuscular damage and lesions of the entire brachial plexus.”

According to the study, these injuries are consistent with a "a heavy object hitting the back between the neck and shoulder."   The heavy object in this case would have been the cross itself, which would have hit Jesus's back as a result of one of his three falls.  The physical damage was substantial, as "the nerves of the upper brachial plexus (particularly branches C5 and C6) are violently stretched resulting in an Erb-Duchenne paralysis (as occurs in dystocia) because of loss of motor innervation to the deltoid, supraspinatus, infraspinatus, biceps, supinator, brachioradialis and rhomboid muscles.”   After such an injury, carrying the cross would have been impossible , which brings to mind Simon of Cyrene who, according to the Gospel, was forced by the soldiers to pick up Jesus’ cross.

The shroud of Turin may be fake (the Church has refrained from officially asserting its authenticity), but as we learn more about the complexity required of the fakery, and that the fakery is consistent with little known testimony of mystics and stigmatics, some of whom lived long after 1390, when the shroud's history begins to be well documented, Occam's razor argues for taking the shroud for what it claims to be.

h/t Creative Minority Report

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