6. The Taking down of the Body
of Jesus from the Cross
I pity you, oh my afflicted mother, on account of the sixth sword which pierced your heart, when you did see the kind heart of your Son pierced through and through after his death - a death endured for those ungrateful men, who, even after his death, were not satisfied with the tortures they had inflicted upon him. By this cruel sorrow, then, which was wholly yours, I pray you to obtain for me the grace to abide in the heart of Jesus, who was wounded and opened for me; in that heart, I say, which is the beautiful abode of love, where all the souls who love God repose; and that living there, I will never love or think of any thing but God. Most holy Virgin, you can do it; from you I hope for it.


On the Sixth Sorrow - The Piercing of the Side of Jesus, and His descent from The Cross

(Taken from ‘The Glories of Mary’ by Saint Alphonsus Liguori)

"Oh, all ye that pass by the way attend, and see if there be any sorrow like to my sorrow." Devout souls, listen to what the sorrowful Mary says to you today: My beloved children, if you wish to please Me, this I ask of you: turn to Me and see if there has ever been in the world a grief like Mine, when I saw Him who was all my love torn from Me so cruelly.

But, oh Lady, Thou must be told that Thy sorrows have not ended with the death of Thy Son. Today thou wilt be pierced by another sword of sorrow, when Thou shalt see a cruel lance piercing the side of this Thy Son, already dead, and shalt receive Him in Thy arms after He is taken from the cross.

And now we are to consider the sixth sorrow which afflicted this sorrowful Mother. Come and weep. Up until this point, the sorrows of Mary tortured Her one by one, but here they are all united to assail Her.

To make known to a Mother that Her child is dead, is sufficient to kindle Her whole soul with love for the lost one. Some persons, in order to lighten the grief, will remind the mothers whose children have died, of the displeasure the child had once caused them. But if, oh my Queen, I should wish to lighten Your sorrow for the death of Jesus in this way, what displeasure has He ever caused You that I could recall to Your mind?

He always loved You, obeyed You and respected You. Now You have lost Him who can describe Your sorrow? A devout author says, that when our Redeemer was dead, the Heart of the great Mother was first engaged in accompanying the most holy soul of the Son, and presenting it to the Eternal Father.

I present Thee, oh my God, Mary must then have said, the Immaculate soul of Thy and my Son, which has been obedient to Thee even unto death: receive It, then, in Thy arms. Thy Justice is now satisfied, Thy Will accomplished; behold, the great sacrifice to Thy eternal glory is consummated.

And then turning to the lifeless members of Her Jesus: Oh wounds, She said, oh loving wounds, I adore you, I rejoice with you, since through you salvation has been given to the world. You shall remain open in the body of My Son, to be the refuge of those who will have recourse to you. Oh how many, through you, shall receive the pardon of their sins, and then through you shall be inflamed to love the Sovereign Good!

So that the joy of the following Paschal Sabbath should not be disturbed, the Jews wished the body of Jesus to be taken down from the cross. But because they could not take down a criminal until He was dead, they came with iron mallets to break His legs, as they had already done to the two thieves crucified with Him. And Mary, while She remains weeping at the death of Her Son, sees those armed men coming towards Her Jesus.

She trembled with fear at this sight, how she must have said, "My Son is already dead, cease to maltreat Him, and cease to torture me a poor mother longer." She implored them not to break His legs. But while She is thus speaking, She sees a soldier with violence brandishing a spear, and piercing the side of Jesus: "One of the soldiers with a spear opened His side, and immediately there came out blood and water."

The cross shook at the stroke of the spear, and as was revealed to St. Bridget, the Heart of Jesus was divided. There came out blood and water, for only a few drops of blood remained, and those also the Savior wished to shed, in order to show that He had no more blood to give us.

The injury of that stroke was offered to Jesus, but the pain was inflicted on Mary. Christ, says the devout Lanspergius, shared with his Mother the infliction of that wound, for He received the insult and His Mother the pain.

The holy Fathers explain this to be the very sword predicted to the Virgin by St. Simeon; a sword, not of iron, but of grief, which pierced through Her blessed soul in the Heart of Jesus, where it always dwelt. Thus, among others, St. Bernard says, "The spear which opened His side passed through the soul of the Virgin, which could not be torn from the Heart of Jesus."

The Divine Mother Mary Herself revealed the same to St. Bridget, saying: "When the spear was drawn out, the point appeared red with blood; then I felt as if my Heart were pierced when I saw the heart of My most dear Son pierced."

An angel told St. Bridget, that the sufferings of Mary were such, that She was saved from death only by the miraculous power of God. In Her other sorrows She at least had Her Son to compassionate Her; and now She had not even Him to take pity on Her.

The afflicted Mother, still fearing that other injuries might be inflicted on Her Son, entreats Joseph of Arimathea to obtain from Pilate the body of Her Jesus, that at least after His death She may be able to guard it and protect it from injuries. Joseph went to Pilate and made known to Him the sorrow and the wish of this afflicted Mother, and St. Anselm thinks that compassion for the Mother softened the heart of Pilate, and moved Him to grant Her the body of the Savior.

And now Jesus is taken from the cross. Oh most holy Virgin, after Thou with so great love had given Thy Son to the world for our salvation, behold the world returns Him to Thee again! But, oh, how dost Thou return Him to Me? says Mary to the world. My Son was white and ruddy, but thou hast returned Him to me blackened with bruises, and red, not with a ruddy color, but with the wounds thou hast inflicted upon Him. He was beautiful, now there is no more beauty in Him; He is all deformity. All were enamored with His aspect, now He excites horror in all who look upon Him.

Oh, how many swords pierced the soul of this Mother, when She received the body of Her Son after it was taken from the cross. Let us consider what anguish it would cause any mother to receive the lifeless body of a son!

It was revealed to St. Bridget, that to take down the body of Jesus, three ladders were placed against the cross. Those holy disciples first drew out the nails from the hands and feet. Then one supported the upper part of the body of Jesus, the other the lower, and thus took it down from the cross.

Prayers and Meditations
Thus Mary spoke and complained of us. But if now She were capable of suffering, what would She say? What grief would She feel to see that men after the death of Her Son, continue to torment and crucify Him by their sins?

Let us no longer give pain to this sorrowful Mother. And if we also have hither to grieved Her by our sins, let us now do what She directs. She says to us, "Sinners, return to the wounded Heart of my Jesus. Return as penitents, for He will receive you. Flee from Him to Him; from the Judge to the Redeemer, from the tribunal to the cross."

The Virgin Herself revealed to St. Bridget that She closed the eyes of Her Son, when He was taken down from the cross, but She could not close His arms. Jesus Christ giving us to understand by this, that He desired to remain with open arms to receive all truly penitent sinners who return to Him.

"Oh world," continues Mary, "behold then, Thy time is the time of lovers. Now that y Son, oh world, has died to save Thee, this is no longer for Thee a time of fear, but of love. A time to love Him who has desired to suffer so much in order to show Thee the love He bore Thee." "For this reason," says St. Bernard "is the Heart of Jesus wounded - that through the visible wound, the invisible wound of love may be seen.

"If then," concludes Mary, "my Son had wished His side to be opened that He might give Thee His Heart, it is right, oh man, that thou should give Him thy Heart."

And if you wish, children of Mary, to find a place in the Heart of Jesus without fear of being cast out, go with Mary, for She will obtain grace for you.


Oh afflicted Virgin! Oh soul great in virtues and great also in sorrows! For both arise from that great fire of love Thou has for God. Thou "whose Heart can love nothing but God." Mother, have pity on me, for I have not loved God, and I have so much offended Him. Thy sorrows give me great confidence to hope for pardon. But this is not enough. I wish to love my Lord, and who can better obtain this for me than Thou - Thou who art the Mother of fair love? Ah Mary, Thou dost console all, comfort me also. Amen.

Bernardino de Bustis describes the afflicted Mother as raising herself, and extending Her arms to meet Her dear Son. She embraces Him, and then sits down at the foot of the cross.

She sees His mouth open, His eye shut. She examines the lacerated flesh, and those exposed bones. She takes off the crown, and sees the cruel injury made by those thorns, in that Sacred Head. She looks upon those pierced hands and feet, and says, "Ah, My Son, to what has the love Thou bearest men reduced Thee! But what evil has Thou done to them, that they have treated Thee so cruelly?" "Thou wast my Father," Bernardino de Bustis imagines Her to say, "my brother, my spouse, my delight, my glory, my all."

"Oh, My Son, behold how I am afflicted, look upon Me and console Me; but Thou dost look upon Me no more. Speak, speak to Me but one word, and console Me; but Thou dost speak no more, for Thou art dead." Then turning to those barbarous instruments, She said, "Oh cruel thorns, oh nails, oh merciless spear, how could you thus torture your Creator? But what thorns, what nails? Alas! sinners, She exclaimed, it is you who have thus cruelly treated my Son."

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