Meditation on the Scourging at the Pillar

Richard Salbato


Before Each Hail Mary

1. Pilate released Barabbas, but this did not satisfy the Pharisees.  Pilate heard that Jesus was from Galilee, which was Herod’s jurisdiction, so he tried to push him off on Herod.  Herod tried to question Christ, but He would not answer a single question, because even by earthly law, Herod had no authority. Christ was not from Galilee.  He sent him back to Pilate, who felt that if he punished Jesus, the Pharisees would let him go.  He sent him out to be scourged.

2.  The Pharisees went with Pilate’s armed guard to north of Pilate’s palace, where there was a scourging pillar about 8 feet tall with an iron ring at the top. The Romans did not usually punish or execute people themselves, but used mercenaries for this job. In this case, they used Egyptians, who were especially violent, and had been criminals in Egypt.  There were six of them at the scourging pillar. The Pharisees were worried that Christ would survive until the Saturday Sabbath, and therefore, by Jewish law could not be killed on that day.  The Pharisees and elders were not even sure Pilate would allow death; and therefore, they paid the Egyptian executioners with money and wine to make sure He did not survive the scourging. 

3. With His Mother and the holy women watching from a balcony in the wall of Pilate’s square, the executioners stripped Christ of all his clothes, and tied His hands to the iron ring at the top of the pillar so that His feet barely touched the ground.

Two Roman teenage girls walked by at the time, dressed in the typical Roman dress of the time: white silk, braless and cross-strapped with silk ropes.  They giggled at His nakedness as they walked past, pointing and laughing at him.  In tears, His Mother prayed for their souls.   

4. The six mercenaries took turns scourging Our Lord.  The first two used whips with a grouping of leather straps bound together.  They first whipped His entire back and legs until there was no skin that was not bleeding.  They then turned Him around and did the same to his front side. Tradition says that anything over 40 lashes would kill a man, but after the first two executioners could no longer hold up their arms, Christ still had not died.

In the distance you could hear the sound of the bleating lambs being washed in the pools in preparation for the sacrifice of the lambs. 

5.  The next two executioners used whips with knots set with long thorns that ripped large holes in Jesus’ flesh.  When they were too exhausted to continue, the last two continued with whips that had large fish hooks on the ends. These whips pulled out large chunks of flesh from His body, including parts of His beard on the right side of His face.

6. When these two were resting, a stranger ran up to Jesus, and cut the straps that held Him up.  He fell to the ground in His own blood.  The stranger ran away, and was not seen again.  The executioners kicked him, but did not start whipping him again as they were busy with drinking wine.

7.  After some time they picked Him, and put His robe back on.  The robe stuck to his blood stained skin, and caused additional suffering. The scourging took 45 minutes and over 1000 whips, but miraculously, He was still living, and almost without any blood left in His body.

8.  Christ took the sleeve of His robe and wiped the blood from His eyes.  He looked up at His Mother.  She could read His thoughts. “This was to pay the price of the sins of impurity, and for this most people go to Hell. These sins are very offensive to God and the price had to be great.”

9. The suffering of His Mother was great, and every sound of the whipping sent shivers of pain into her Heart. “A sword will pierce your heart, that the thoughts of many souls will be exposed.”  If we do not embrace purity in thoughts and actions, we are the cause of Christ and Mary’s sufferings in this mystery. 

10. More people go to Hell for sins against the flesh than any other reason.  Yet, the proper use of sex in marriage is great and pure.  It is almost a sacrament, a sacrament of love.  When misused it is like soil becoming dirt. When they lead Christ out of the square, Mary and the holy woman used clothes to wipe up the precious, redeeming blood.