To help us to stay mindful of the Lord’s Merciful Love for us shown in His pierced Hands, Feet, and Side, the Church offers various signs and symbols of His Five Sacred Wounds, obtained on the Cross.
Although every day is a fitting day to recall the Five Sacred Wounds of Our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ, as we approach the Sacred Triduum and the Easter Season, the first four signs and symbols are especially liturgically visible to us, reminding us, perhaps to be more cognizant of the Lord’s Wounds throughout the rest of the year.
1. Crucifix-- On Good Friday, we will have an opportunity to venerate the Crucifix during special services. Unlike a cross, a crucifix has a corpus, a representation of the Crucified Body of Christ. We might choose to kiss Our Savior’s pierced Feet or Hands, or we might choose to kiss His wounded Side.
Outside Good Friday, every time we enter a church, we might look to the Crucifix and recall those Five Sacred Wounds. Day in and day out, we might wear a Crucifix, which we might venerate; we might venerate the Crucifix on our Rosary beads, as well.
2. Paschal Candle—On Holy Saturday, the Easter or Paschal Candle will be lit, representing that Christ, the Light of the World has Died and Risen, shattering the darkness of sin. To remind us of the Savior’s Five Sacred Wounds, five pieces of incense are inserted in the body of the Candle.
During the Easter Season, the Candle is lit during every Mass. All year round, whenever there is a funeral Mass, the Paschal Candle, as a reminder of our death to sin when we were Baptized into the Body of Christ, is lit and positioned at the head of the coffin.
3. Pallium—If we watch the televised Easter Vigil/Easter Sunday Papal Mass(es), we will see the Holy Father wearing a pallium over his chasuble. Embroidered into the pallium are five crosses, which symbolize Jesus’ Five Sacred Wounds.
(A pallium is shown in the photograph that accompanies this article; the fifth cross (on the back of the pallium) is not visible on the pallium worn by Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI during an Ordinary Season Mass he celebrated during his Papacy.)
In addition to the Holy Father, Archbishops wear a pallium, although the color of the crosses on the Pope's pallium is different.
4. Divine Mercy Image—On the first Sunday after Easter, Divine Mercy Sunday, the Gospel refers to the encounter between the Resurrected Jesus and St. Thomas, which calls to mind the Five Sacred Wounds on the Glorified Body of Jesus. On that day, the Lord asked—through St. Faustina--that the Divine Mercy Image be honored.
All year long, we can reverence Divine Mercy Images that are within our churches, as well as within our homes, and we can pray the Divine Mercy Chaplet.
Although this next, fifth sign, might not be seen if we are not in the company of religious whose habits include symbols of the Lord’s Sacred Wounds, it is worth realizing that such symbols exist and that such religious groups are important signs of Jesus’ Passion.
5. Religious Habits—Notable among the religious habits that bring to mind the Five Sacred Wounds of Jesus is the distinctive metal crown with five red stones worn over the headpiece-veils of the Sisters of St. Bridget (a.k.a. Brigittines, Birgittines, or Sisters of the Order of the Most Holy Savior of St. Birgitta of Sweden).
The Brigittines, like other groups of religious men and women, are signs of the Lord’s Presence. They remind us that the Lord’s Five Sacred Wounds are visible and invisible as Jesus suffers in His Body the Church. They remind us to perform spiritual and corporal woks of mercy in the Name of Jesus and in obedience to His command to love one another. They remind us that the Suffering Servant still walks among us.
During this Mercy Jubilee, when we are especially attuned to the Passion, Death, and Resurrection of the Lord Jesus Christ, let us pay special attention to the signs and symbols of Jesus’ Five Sacred Wounds. Let us worship and thank the Lord for the Wounds He suffered on the Cross in humble acceptance of Death on our behalf.
In response to the Mercy Jubilee call for spiritual and corporal works of mercy, may God bless us with a greater sensitivity and willingness to respond to His Woundedness in each other--in our relatives and friends, and even in the strangers we encounter.