THE CROWN OF THORNS
The Somerset Guardian, 17th April 2019
In the terrible conflagration at the Cathedral of Notre Dame in Paris, amidst the great destruction some important relics have been saved. The greatest of these by far is the Crown of Thorns which Jesus wore.
St. Matthew explained that after our Lord was handed over to be crucified, Pontius Pilot’s soldiers put a scarlet robe on him ‘and twisted together a crown of thorns and set it on his head’. They then mocked him and said ‘Hail, King of the Jews…and struck him on the head again and again’. Jesus bore this suffering and mockery as an atonement for the sins of mankind. He had done nothing wrong yet was both physically and mentally tortured. Even as he hung on the cross, writhing in agony with nails piercing his wrists and feet, he was taunted. Yet he was a king and the head that once was crowned with thorns was to be crowned in glory through the Resurrection.
Holy relics are an aid to faith because they remind the faithful and potentially inspire the non-believer to understand. St. Thomas did not believe until he saw and we cannot see as he did but we can understand better by viewing the Crown of Thorns and recognising how Christ suffered and what such a crown meant, both in terms of pain with the thorns and the humiliation that God was accepting to redeem us.
That something so directly linked to Christ has survived is a blessing amidst a disaster. A tangible reminder of the love of God who suffered so much to save us and it is a suitable matter for contemplation in Holy Week, especially on Good Friday.