The Holy Shroud. “They took the body of Jesus and wrapped it in linen bandages with aromas, according to the manner of burying used by the Jewish people” (John 19:40).
I saw the Virgin sitting on the ground on a blanket, with her back resting on some rolled cloaks. She had a slightly raised right knee, on which rested the holy head of Jesus, whose body was lying on the shroud.
The Holy Mother held for the last time in her arms the sacred remains of her beloved Son, to whom, during her long martyrdom, she could not give any testimony of love. She kissed and adored that horribly disfigured and bloody body, contemplating the deep wounds and the terrible sufferings, while Mary Magdalene gently abandoned her face on her most sacred feet.
At the same time, the men had retreated to a small depression to the south-west of Calvary to prepare the objects necessary for embalming. Cassio and the converted soldiers remained at a respectful distance while waiting to help.
John worked hard among the group of men and women, who offered these vessels the vases, sponges, linens, ointments, aromas and all that was needed. Among the pious women I saw Mary of Cleophas, Salome and Veronica. Mary Magdalene was always next to Jesus. Maria Heli, sitting, contemplated the whole scene. Next to the group of disciples, I saw the wineskins and a vase full of water placed over a coal fire.
In her unspeakable pain the holy Virgin kept a magnificent readiness of mind. She could not leave her Son’s body in that horrible state, so she began to erase the traces of the insults she had suffered.
With extreme delicacy She removed the crown of thorns, opening it from the back side, then placed the crown near the nails.
Using a kind of round pincer, she removed the thorns that had remained in the Lord’s head and showed them sadly to the pious women and disciples. These were also collected near the nails and the crown; some were kept apart.
I saw the Virgin wash the head and the bloodied face of the Lord, passing the wet sponge on her hair to remove the clotted blood. As she cleansed the holy body of the Son, contemplating the numerous wounds, increased compassion and tenderness for the immense suffering he had suffered.
The holy Virgin washed the sores of his head, the blood that filled his eyes, nostrils and ears, with a sponge and a small linen spread on the fingers of his right hand. In the same way, She wiped his half-open mouth, tongue, teeth, and lips.
Then the Holy Mother divided the hair of her Son into three parts, one for each temple and the other behind the head. When She had tangled his hair in front of them and made them shiny and smooth, She passed them behind his ears. Once the head was cleaned, after kissing the Son on the cheeks, She finally cleaned up the neck, shoulders, chest, back, arms and his tender, wounded hands.
Our Lady of Sorrows washed and cleaned, one by one, all the numerous and horrible wounds. Only then it was possible to see in all the smallest details the terrible martyrs suffered by the Son.
The bones of the chest and the joints of the limbs were all dislocated and could not be bent. The shoulder held the frightful wound of the cross and the upper part of the most holy body was covered by the bruises and wounds of the staff.
On the left side of his chest was a small sore, from which the tip of Cassio’s spear had come out; on the right side there was the wide wound where the lance had entered, which had gone through the heart from side to side.
Mary Magdalene, on her knees, helped the holy Mother, without leaving the feet of the Lord. She bathed them for the last time with his tears, dried them with his hair and supported his pale face, with which, out of respect, she did not dare touch that of Jesus.
The most holy body, which had taken on a bluish-white color, because it was bleeding in its interior, rested on Mary’s lap, who washed her head, breast and feet, covered them with a veil and began to pass the balm on all the holy wounds.
The pious women, kneeling before her, passed from time to time a box, where she took the ointments and the precious balms with which anointed the wounds of the Son.
Mary most holy also anointed his hair, then took both of Jesus’ hands in his left hand and kissed them with profound respect, at the end She filled the large holes produced by the nails with an ointment, and She did so with the deep wound of his ribs.
The water that was used to wash the wounds was not thrown away, but it was solemnly collected in leather bottles in which the sponges were also squeezed. I saw Cassio and the soldiers draw water at Gihon’s fountain.
When the Holy Virgin had embalmed all the wounds, she wrapped the sacred head in the linen, but without covering the holy face again. She closed the half-open eyes of the Lord, letting it rest on his hand; then she also closed his mouth, kissed the holy body and brought his face close to that of the Son. She was interrupted by John, who begged her to separate from the body of the Son because the Sabbath was near and it was to be buried. Obediently, she embraced the holy remains for the last but once and departed with profound emotion.
After having removed them from the womb, the men brought the holy remains in the valley of the Golgotha where they had prepared everything necessary for the embalming.
Once again left to her sorrows, Mary most holy, with her head covered, fell unconscious among the pious women.
Mary Magdalene, as if she had been robbed of her beloved Spouse, took a few steps forward, holding her arms outstretched towards the body of the Lord, then returned to the Virgin.
The Savior’s body was laid on a knitted linen.
Probably the linen was worked day to let the water run off better. The upper part of the sacred body was covered with another sheet.
Nicodemus and Joseph knelt down and, putting their hands under the sheet, took off the linen with which they had girdled Jesus’ reins immediately after his deposition from the cross, then they also removed the belt that had brought Jonadab before the crucifixion . Sponges passed under the sheet and washed his body, keeping it hidden at every glance. They continued to wash it until the sponges gave clear water. At this point they poured myrrh water over the whole of the holy body and, treating it with respectful love, made him take back his length, because he had remained curved as he had died on the cross. I saw that the knees were raised as if at the time of death.
Afterwards they dressed it well and filled it with herbs and packets of herbs, which they put in abundance between the legs throughout their length. Everything was sprinkled with a precious powder that Nicodemus had brought with him.
When it reached the end, John brought back the holy Virgin and the other pious women next to the sacred remains.
Kneeling near the face of Jesus, Our Lady tightly wrapped a fine linen around his head and shoulders. She had received this linen from Pilate’s wife, and wore it wrapped around her neck under her cloak.
Helped by pious women, the Virgin filled the space between the shoulders and the cheeks of the Lord with herbs, aromas and fragrant dust, while Mary Magdalene poured a bottle of balsam into the wound of the side. The pious women gave him herbs around his hands and feet.
In turn, the men filled the hollows of the Lord’s armpits with balsam, then crossed his stiff arms over his chest and wrapped the holy body in a large linen, as if they were wrapping a newborn. Then the most sacred remains were put in the great funeral sheet bought by Joseph of Arimathea.
While making the extreme homage to the holy body of Jesus, a very moving prodigy manifested itself: the image of Christ appeared impressed on the funeral sheet that covered it. His friends understood that the Lord had wanted to leave his effigy in gratitude to their loving care. They wept and kissed her with deep devotion.
Their marvel was so much greater when they lifted the shroud and saw the linen and all the bandages underneath them white, noting that only the first had received the miraculous impression. Also the part of the funeral sheet on which the holy body was lying had received the dorsal imprint of the Redeemer. They were not bloody footprints, having been the body of Jesus cured and covered with aromas.
I saw some episodes of the later history of the Holy Shroud, but I do not remember them in detail. I can only say this: after the resurrection of the Lord was guarded by the first Christian community, he worked many miracles and was the object of bitter disputes.
Jesus’ friends laid the holy relics on a leather stretcher, covered it with a brown blanket and fitted two long sticks to the sides.
That image reminded me of the ark of the covenant.
Nicodemus and Joseph put on their shoulders the stalks from the front, Abenadar and John those of the back. Behind them followed the Virgin Mary, Maria Heli, Mary Magdalene and Mary of Cleophas, and then the pious women left further from the cross: Veronica, Giovanna Cusa, Mary mother of Mark, Salome wife of Zebedee, Maria Salome, Salome of Jerusalem , Susanna and Anna, a nephew of St. Joseph who grew up in Jerusalem.
Cassio and the converted soldiers closed the procession.
Maroni of Naim, Dma the Samaritan woman, Mara the Sufanita and the other pious women had remained in Bethany with Martha and Lazarus.
Two soldiers with lit torches illuminated the way to the tomb.
The funeral entered the garden of Joseph of Arimathea intoning the psalms with melancholy air.
I saw James the Major, John’s brother, watching the scene from the top of a hill. Immediately afterwards he ran to inform the other disciples hidden in the caves.
When the procession arrived in front of the tomb, the men lifted the blanket from the stretcher and took away the corpse.Entered the cave, the two good sinedrites deposed the holy body of the Lord on the tomb bed, while John and Abedenar folded the edges of the shroud one over the other.
The pious women had taken their seats in front of the cave entrance.
The rock bed, which had received the holy body, had previously been covered with a large linen and various aromatic herbs.
The cave had previously been well cleaned by the servants of Nicodemus, who had burnt even perfumed incense. The interior was quite presentable and, on the upper wall, a beautiful decoration was carved.
These faithful friends attested to their love by kissing him for the last time, then they came out of the cave pouring warm tears.
Immediately afterwards the Holy Virgin entered, sat on the side of her head and bent down to weep over the sacred remains of the Son.
As soon as she went out, Mary Magdalene rushed back to the sepulcher and threw flowers and leaves over Jesus’ body, then she joined her hands crying and kissed her feet, until the men warned her that they had to close the sepulcher.
Having finished the pitiful office, they rolled the boulder at the entrance.
The inhumation took place in the light of the torches.
I saw some disciples of Jesus wandering around like night shadows near the sepulcher.