Devotion to the Five Wounds of Jesus is ancient. The first record of their veneration is from the Book of the Acts of the Apostles, when St. Thomas touched them while Jesus exhorted him to believe He had risen from the dead. One does not immediately connect the Five Wounds with the Chaplet of Divine Mercy–but there is a very compelling connection.
The Five Wounds of Jesus
Firstly, what are the five wounds? Wounds, after all, covered Jesus by the time He gave up His spirit on the cross. When we refer to the Five Wounds, which do we mean?
Historically, we mean the two nail wounds in the wrists, the two nail wounds in the feet, and the wound in the side left by St. Longinus’ spear. These wounds represent all of the wounds He received during His passion. I say “historically” because some people add the Crown of Thorns, lumping the feet wounds together as if they were one wound.
I prefer the historical definition because, to me, it just makes more sense. Jesus had two feet, not one foot, after all, even if one nail pierced them (and that depends on which depiction of the crucifixion you’re looking at). Also, when Jesus appears to people, those are normally the Wounds still visible. Therefore, in this post, we’re using the historical definition .
Ven. Sr. Martha Marie Chambon
Venerable Sr. Martha Marie was a Visitation Nun in the late nineteenth/early twentieth century. Our Lord first appeared to her in 1850, encouraging her to show and spread devotion to His Five Wounds. He called the devotion a “true treasure for the souls in Purgatory“. He also taught her a chaplet to be said for the souls in Purgatory and as an act of reparation for the sins of the world.
While many of the promises he gave to Sr. Martha Marie were tied to the chaplet, some of them apply to the devotion in general. One promise in particular was:
“My Wounds will repair yours. My Wounds will cover all your faults. Those who honour them will have a true knowledge of Jesus Christ. In meditation on them, you will always find a new love. My Wounds will cover all your sins.”
Sr. Martha Marie died in 1907, two years after the birth of a little girl who would grow up to be St. Faustina. It bears noting St. Faustina’s big conversion moment happened when Jesus appeared to her at a ball, covered in wounds, and asked her, “For how much longer will you keep putting Me off?”
The Divine Mercy Chaplet
Whenever we think of the Divine Mercy, we think of the image: Jesus emerging from darkness with two rays of light spilling from His Heart while He raises one hand in blessing. A sweet devotion about the mercy of God that little old ladies and sensitive young women just love to pieces.
While there is a sweetness to mercy, there’s also the bold, bloody reality: that mercy comes to us by way of the Cross. And the Five Wounds are a symbol of all the agony Jesus went through to open the way to Heaven for us. That is the main connection between the devotion to the Five Wounds and the Divine Mercy Chaplet.
A second connection is that before Jesus ever appeared to St. Faustina, He had already gone to Sister Martha Marie, recommending His Wounds to anyone seeking forgiveness and healing, as well as for reparation. These are themes that continually pop up in St. Faustina’s Diary.
Finally, Sister Martha Marie had a deep devotion for the souls in Purgatory, using the Holy Wounds devotion to help them to Heaven. St. Faustina often prayed for the dying, using the Chaplet of Divine Mercy to help them in their last moments and to, hopefully, shorten their stay in Purgatory.
The Marian Fathers
The Marian Fathers of the Immaculate Conception are, in the States, the distributors of information of the Divine Mercy devotion. They have also long recommended meditating on the Five Wounds of Jesus while reciting the Divine Mercy chaplet.
For some reason, The Marian Fathers include the Crown of Thorns as one of the Five Wounds. I’m not completely sure why. To quote a sci-fi comedy, “Some people juggle geese.” Whether you include the Crown of Thorns in your meditation is completely up to you.
This Lenten Season
If you’re still trying to figure out what to do this Lent, or if you’re willing to take on something “last minute”, I highly recommend not only saying the Divine Mercy chaplet but to also meditate on Christ’s Five Wounds while you do so. You’ll come away with a deeper appreciate of God’s mercy and love. And, really, it kind of looks like this is what Our Dear Lord intended when He gave the chaplet to St. Faustina.