Thursday, 7 March 2019

THE BLOOD OF CHRIST

I am fascinated by, and have already blogged, the fifteenth century Five Wounds Window in Sidmouth church.   For one thing, what is represented is not so much five wounds as five glass phials filled with blood.

The window depicts five glass phials with 'heavenly crown' lids containing blood taken from the wounds of Christ.  Each of the phials is labelled,  thus:

blood from the right hand:   phial of wisdom.
blood from the left hand:     phial of mercy.
blood from Christ's side:     phial of everlasting life.
blood from the right foot:    phial of grace.
blood from the left foot:      phial of ghostly comfort.

All of which seems very strange and unique.   Such a window was probably intended to stimulate prayer.  There was a special mass dedicated to the five wounds and prayers to the wounds were deemed to be very powerful and could earn very large dispensations and indulgences saving the devout Christian many centuries of pain in Purgatory.   Praying to the wounds of Christ was linked to the rosary and could be prayed to at designated intervals as the contrite sinner worked his or her way around the beads.

 I don't know whether the different wounds were generally linked, in the medieval mind, with the virtues and rewards indicated by the phials of Sidmouth church  but clearly one could not pray better than for wisdom, mercy and so on.  Ghostly comfort presumably was what the sinner hoped to gain from confession to a holy (ghostly) father of the church.        

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