SS. Jonas, Barachisius and Their Companions

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SS. Jonas, Barachisius, and Their Companions, Martyrs.

A.D. 327.

KING SAPOR, in the eighteenth year of his reign, raised a bloody persecution against the Christians, and demolished their churches and monasteries. Jonas and Barachisius, two brothers of the city Beth-Asa, hearing that several Christians lay under sentence of death at Hubaham, went thither to encourage and serve them. Nine of that number received the crown of martyrdom. After their execution, Jonas and Barachisius were apprehended for having exhorted them to die. The president mildly entreated the two brothers to obey the king of kings, meaning the king of Persia, and to worship the sun, moon, fire, and water. Their answer was, that it was more reasonable to obey the immortal King of heaven and earth, than a mortal prince. The Magians were much offended to hear their king called mortal. By their advice the martyrs were separated, and Barachisius was cast into a very narrow close dungeon. Jonas they detained with them, endeavouring to persuade him to sacrifice to fire, the sun, and water. The prince of the Magians, seeing him inflexible, caused him to be laid flat on his belly with a stake under his navel, and to be beaten both with knotty clubs and with rods. The martyr all the time continued in prayer, saying: “I thank you, O God of our father Abraham. Enable me I beseech you to offer to you acceptable holocausts. One thing I have asked of the Lord: this will I seek after. 1 The sun, moon, fire, and water I renounce: I believe and confess the Father, Son, and Holy Ghost.” The judge ordered him next to be set in a frozen pond, with a cord tied to his foot. After supper and a short nap he sent for Barachisius, and told him his brother had sacrificed. The martyr said it was impossible that he should have paid divine honours to fire, a vile creature, and spoke much on the immensity and power of God, and with such eloquence and force, that the Magians were astonished to hear him, and said one to another, that if he were permitted to speak in public, he would draw over many from their religion. Whereupon they concluded for the future to hold his interrogatories in the night. In the mean time they caused two red-rot iron plates, and two red-hot hammers, to be applied under each arm, and said to him: “If you shake off either of these, by the king’s fortune, you deny Christ.” He meekly replied: “I fear not your fire; nor shall I throw off your instruments of torture. I beg you to try without delay all your torments on me. He who is engaged in combat for God, is full of courage.” They ordered melted lead to be dropped into his nostrils and eyes; and that he should then be carried to prison, and there hung up by one foot. Jonas, after this, being brought out of his pool, the Magians said to him: “How do you find yourself this morning? We imagine you passed the last night but very uncomfortably.” “No,” replied Jonas: “from the day I came into the world, I never remember a night more sweet and agreeable: for I was wonderfully refreshed by the remembrance of Christ’s sufferings.” The Magians said: “Your companion hath renounced.” The martyr, interrupting them, answered: “I know that he hath long ago renounced the devil and his angels.” The Magians urged: “Take care lest you perish, abandoned both by God and man.” Jonas replied: “If you are really wise, as you boast, judge if it be not better to sow the corn, than to keep it hoarded up. Our life is a seed sown, to rise again in the world to come, when it will be renewed by Christ in immortal light.” The Magians said: “Your books have drawn many aside.” Jonas answered: “They have indeed drawn many from worldly pleasures. When a servant of Christ is in his sufferings inebriated with love from the passion of his Lord, he forgets the transitory state of this short life, its riches, estates, gold, and honours; regardless of kings and princes, lords and noblemen, where an eternity is at stake, he desires nothing but the sight of the only true King, whose empire is everlasting, and whose power reaches to all ages.” The judges commanded all his fingers and toes to be cut off, joint by joint, and scattered about. Then they said to him: “Now wait the harvest to reap other hands from this seed.” To whom he said: “Other hands I do not ask. God is present, who first framed me, and who will give me new strength.” After this the skin was torn off the martyr’s head, his tongue was cut out, and he was thrown into a vessel of boiling pitch; but the pitch by a sudden ebullition running over the servant of God was not hurt by it. The judges next ordered him to be squeezed in a wooden press till his veins, sinews, and fibres burst. Lastly, his body was sawn with an iron saw, and, by pieces, thrown into a dry cistern. Guards were appointed to watch the sacred relics, lest Christians should steal them away. The judges then called upon Barachisius to spare his own body. To whom he said: “This body I did not frame, neither will I destroy it. God its maker will again restore it; and will judge you and your king.” Hormisdatscirus, turning to Maharnarsces, said: “By our delays we affront the king. These men regard neither words nor torments.” They therefore agreed that he should be beaten with sharp pointed rushes; then that splinters of reeds should be applied to his body, and by cords strait drawn and pulled, should be pressed deep into his flesh, and that in this condition his body pierced all over with sharp spikes, armed like a porcupine, should be rolled on the ground. After these tortures, he was put into the screw or press, and boiling pitch and brimstone were poured into his mouth. By this last torment he obtained a crown equal to that of his brother. Under their most exquisite tortures they thought they bought heaven too cheap. Upon the news of their death, Abtusciatus, an old friend, came and purchased their bodies for five hundred drachms and three silk garments, binding himself also by oath never to divulge the sale. The acts are closed by these words: “This book was written from the mouths of witnesses, and contains the acts of the saints, Jonas, Barachisius, and others, martyrs of Christ, who by his succour fought, triumphed, and were crowned, in whose prayers we beg place may by found, by Esaias, son of Adabus of Arzun, in Armenia, of the troop of royal horsemen, who was present at their interrogatories and tortures, and who wrote the history of their conflicts.” They were crowned on the 29th of the moon of December. This was the 24th of that month, in the year of Christ 327, of Sapor II. the 18th. The Roman Martyrology mentions them on the 29th of March.

March 29. Rev. Alban Butler. 1866. Volume III: March. The Lives of the Saints.


The Five Sacred Wounds

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The Five Sacred Wounds


The revival of religious life and the zealous activity of St. Bernard and St. Francis in the twelfth and thirteenth centuries, together with the enthusiasm of the Crusaders returning from the Holy Land, gave a wonderful impulse to devotion to the Passion of Jesus Christ and particularly to practices in honour of the Wounds in His Sacred Hands, Feet, and Side. The reason for this devotion was well expressed at a later period in the memorial of the Polish bishops to Clement XIII:

“Moreover, the Five Wounds of Christ are honoured by a Mass and an Office, and on account of these wounds we venerate also the feet, hands and side of the most loving Redeemer, these parts of Our Lord’s most holy body being held more worthy of a special cult than the others, precisely because they suffered special pains for our salvation, and because they are decorated with these wounds as with an illustrious mark of love. Therefore, with living faith they cannot be looked upon without a special feeling of religion and devotion” (Nilles, “De rat. fest. SS. Cord. Jesu et Mariae”, I, 126).

Many beautiful medieval prayers in honour of the Sacred Wounds, including some attributed to St. Clare of Assisi (indulgenced on 21 November, 1885), have been preserved. St. Mechtilde and St. Gertrude of Helfta were devoted to the Holy Wounds, the latter saint reciting daily a prayer in honour of the 5466 wounds, which, according to a medieval tradition, were inflicted on Jesus during His Passion. In the fourteenth century it was customary in southern Germany to recite fifteen Pater Nosters each day (which thus amounted to 5475 in the course of a year) in memory of the Sacred Wounds. Corresponding to the Mass “Humiliavit” in the Roman Missal, there was in the medieval Missals a special Mass in honour of Christ’s Wounds, believed to have been composed by St. John the Evangelist and revealed to Boniface II (532). It was known as the Golden Mass, and was indulgenced by Innocent VI (1362) or John XXII (1334); during its celebration five candles were always lighted. It was popularly held that if anyone should say or hear it on five consecutive days he should never suffer the pains of hell fire (Franz, “Messe im Mittelalter”, 159).

The Dominican Rosary also helped to promote devotion to the Sacred Wounds, for while the fifty small beads refer to Mary, the five large beads and the corresponding Pater Nosters are intended to honour the Five Wounds of Christ (Beissel, “Verehrung Marias”, I, 525). Again, in some places it was customary to ring a bell at noon on Fridays, to remind the faithful to recite five Paters and Aves in honour of the Holy Wounds. A corona, or rosary, of the Five Wounds was approved by the Holy See on 11 August, 1823, and again in 1851. It consists of five divisions, each composed of five Glories in honour of Christ’s Wounds and one Ave in commemoration of the Sorrowful Mother. The blessing of the beads is reserved to the Passionists.


The earliest evidence of a feast in honour of the Wounds of Christ comes from the monastery of Fritzlar, Thuringia, where in the fourteenth century a feast was kept on the Friday after the octave of Corpus Christi. The Office was rhythmical (Dreves, “Anal. hymnica”, XXIV, 20; Grotefend, “Zeitrechnung”, II, 1, 115). In the fifteenth century it had spread to different countries, to Salisbury (England), Huesca and Jaca (Spain), Vienna, and Tours, and was included in the Breviaries of the Carmelites, Franciscans, Dominicans, and other orders (Dreves, op. cit., XXIV, XL, XLII). The Feast of the Five Wounds, celebrated since the Middle Ages at Evora and elsewhere in Portugal on 6 February (at Lisbon on the Friday after Ash-Wednesday) is of historical interest. It commemorates the founding of the Portuguese kingdom in 1139, when, before the battle on the plains of Ourique, Christ appeared to Alfonso Henriquez, promising victory over the Moors and commanding him to insert into the coat of arms of the new kingdom the emblem of the Five Wounds (“Propr. Portugalliae” in Weiss, “Weltgeschichte”, III, 251). This feast is celebrated today in all Portuguese-speaking countries. The Proprium of Venice of 1766, which contains perhaps the earliest series of movable feasts in honour of Christ’s Passion, has the Feast of the Five Wounds on the second Sunday in March; it was granted in 1809 to Leghorn for the Friday after Ash-Wednesday, on which day it is still kept in many dioceses of Tuscany, and elsewhere (Mexico). Since 1831, when the feasts in honour of the Passion were adopted at Rome by the Passionists and the city, this feast was assigned to the Friday after the third Sunday in Lent. The Office is one of those bequeathed to us by the Middle Ages. As this feast is not celebrated in the entire Church the Office and Mass are placed in the appendix of the Breviary and the Missal.


NILLES, Kalendarium manuale, II, 140; HELLER in Zeitschr. fur kath. Theol. (1895), 582-5; BENEDICT XIV, De festus D. N. J. Christi, I, 279; BERINGER, Die Ablasse (Paderborn, 1906), 173, 174, 277, 382.

About this page

APA citation. Holweck, F. (1912). The Five Sacred Wounds. In The Catholic Encyclopedia. New York: Robert Appleton Company.

MLA citation. Holweck, Frederick. “The Five Sacred Wounds.” The Catholic Encyclopedia. Vol. 15. New York: Robert Appleton Company, 1912.

Transcription. This article was transcribed for New Advent by Michael T. Barrett. Dedicated to the Passion of Our Lord.

Ecclesiastical approbation. Nihil Obstat. October 1, 1912. Remy Lafort, S.T.D., Censor. Imprimatur. +John Cardinal Farley, Archbishop of New York.