In Christian tradition, the Five Holy Wounds or Five Sacred Wounds are the five piercing wounds suffered during the crucifixion of Jesus. These wounds are not explicitly mentioned in any of the canonical Gospels until the Resurrection, although John the Evangelist states that no bones were broken. In the course of his Passion, Jesus suffered other wounds as well, such as those from the crown of thorns and from the flagellation.
 The wounds
Two of the wounds were through either his hands or his wrists, where nails were inserted to fix Jesus to the cross-beam of the cross on which he was crucified. According to M.D., Ph.D Frederick T. Zugibe, the most plausible region for the nail entry site in the case of Jesus is the upper part of the palm angled toward the wrist since this area can easily support the weight of the body, assures no bones are broken, marks the location where most people believed it to be, accounts for where most of the stigmatists have displayed their wounds and it is where artists through the centuries have designated it and lastly it would result in apparent lengthening of the fingers of the hand because of nail compression.
The final wound was in the side of Jesus' chest, where, according to the New Testament, his body was pierced by the Holy Lance in order to be sure that he was dead. The Gospel of John states that blood and water poured out of this wound (John 19:34).
The examination of the wounds by "Doubting Thomas" the Apostle, reported only in the Gospel of John at John 20:24-29, was the focus of much commentary and often depicted in art (where the subject has the formal name of the Incredulity of Thomas.
 Symbolical use
When consecrating an altar a number of Christian churches anoint it in five places, indicative of the Five Holy Wounds. Eastern Orthodox churches will sometimes have five domes on them, symbolizing the Five Holy Wounds, along with the alternate symbolism of Christ and the Four Evangelists.
The Crusades brought a renewed enthusiasm for religious devotion, especially for the Passion of Christ. St. Bernard of Clairvaux and St. Francis of Assisi in the 12th and 13th centuries encouraged devotions and practices in honor of the Five wounds of the Passion of Jesus: in his hands, feet and side. The Cross of Jerusalem, or "Crusaders’ Cross", remembers the Five wounds through its five crosses. There were many medieval prayers honoring the Wounds. including some attributed to St. Clare of Assisi and St. Mechtilde. In the 14th century, the holy mystic St. Gertrude of Helfta had a vision that Christ sustained 5,466 wounds during the Passion. St. Bridget of Sweden popularized a custom to recite fifteen Paternosters each day (5,475 per year) in memory of the Sacred Wounds. There was a special Mass of the Five Wounds, known as the Golden Mass, which medieval tradition claimed was composed by St. John the Evangelist and revealed to Boniface II (532) in a vision.
The Holy Wounds have often been used as a symbol of Christianity. Participants in the Crusades would often wear the Jerusalem cross, an emblem representing the Holy Wounds; a version is still in use today in the flag of Georgia. The "Five Wounds" was the emblem of the "Pilgrimage of Grace", a northern English rebellion in response to Henry VIII's Dissolution of the Monasteries.
 In art
In art the Incredulity of Saint Thomas, has been common since at least the early 6th century, when it appears in the mosaics at Basilica of Sant'Apollinare Nuovo in Ravenna, and on the Monza ampullae. Among the most famous examples are the sculpted pair of Christ and St. Thomas by Andrea del Verrocchio (1467–1483) for the Orsanmichele in Florence and The Incredulity of Saint Thomas by Caravaggio, now in Potsdam.
In the later Middle Ages Jesus with one side of his robe pulled back, displaying the wound in his side and his other four wounds (called the ostentatio vulnerum), was taken from images with the Doubting Thomas and turned into a pose adopted by Jesus alone, who often places his own fingers into the wound in his side. This form became a common feature of single iconic figures of Jesus and subjects such as the Last Judgement (where Bamberg Cathedral has an early example of about 1235), Christ in Majesty, the Man of Sorrows and Christ with the Arma Christi, and was used to emphasize Christ's suffering as well as the fact of his Resurrection.
 Holy Wound prayers
The Roman Catholic tradition includes specific prayers that focus on the Holy Wounds. An example is the Rosary of the Holy Wounds (also called the Chaplet of Holy Wounds), a rosary devotion directed to Jesus, rather than the Virgin Mary. Like some other rosary based prayers (such as the Chaplet of Divine Mercy) it uses the usual rosary beads, but does not include the usual Mysteries of the Rosary.
The Rosary of the Holy Wounds was first introduced at the beginning of the 20th century by the Venerable Sister Mary Martha Chambon, a lay Roman Catholic Sister of the Monastery of the Visitation Order in Chambéry, France as a focus on the Holy Wounds of Jesus.
Prayers to Jesus
 See also
- "The Crucifixion of Jesus, Second Edition, Completely Revised and Expanded: A Forensic Inquiry" Publisher: M. Evans and Company, Inc.; 2nd edition (May 25, 2005) Author: Adjunct Associate Professor of Pathology, Columbia University, College of Physicians & Surgeons, N.Y. Chief Medical Examiner, Rockland County, N.Y. Popular website: http://www.crucifixion-shroud.com/Barbet.htm
- In Eastern Christianity, the crucificion is traditionally depicted with Jesus' feet side by side, and a separate nail for each; in Western Christianity, the crucifix usually shows the two feet placed one above the other, and both pierced by a single nail.
- Of all the thousands crucified by the Romans, skeletal remains of only one have so far been discovered by archeologists, and that one showed a nail piercing through the heel.
- Soper, 188, listing several other early ocurrences
- Schiller, Vol 2, 188-189, 202
- Ann Ball, 2003 Encyclopedia of Catholic Devotions and Practices ISBN 0-87973-910-X
- Schiller, Gertrud, Iconography of Christian Art, Vol. II, 1972 (English trans from German), Lund Humphries, London, ISBN 0853313245
Anne Cecil Kerr, 1937, Sister Mary Martha Chambon of the Visitation B. Herder Publishing.