One of the most important Austrian poets of the Baroque period, Catharina Regina von Greiffenberg (1633–1694) composed three sets of mystical meditations on Jesus’ life, suffering, and death.
In this reflection on Christ suffering on the cross, Greiffenberg identifies with her Lord’s agony, and by doing so, finds an understanding of the depth of his sacrifice. The meditation was written as prose, but we have here lineated it as a found lyric poem, as the language of the passage itself led us.
The Savior of All Suffered Horrible Pain
Now, dearest Lord Jesus, you
will know terrible agony, and I
will agonize in my heart. O,
it is a cross for me to bear
to name your crucifixion and agony
for me to imagine it.
How can my hands describe
the pain of you
without trembling and shaking
with pain? How can I recall
the stripping of you
without dying of sheer horror?
O Jesus! You who surround all
of creation and Creator of all surroundings
except for yourself! Why must your noble body
be robbed of even the smallest part
of it? You who are beautifully
and magnificently adorned with immortal glory
and splendor suffer
yourself to be most miserably and
You, whose clothes are the blinding radiance of God and the most divine beam of light, stand now completely naked, covered with bloody welts and cuts. You who spread out heaven like a carpet hast on earth not a scrap in which to wrap yourself.
The raw, sharp air of the wind
that is yet cold must yet cut
through your body, which is covered
with wounds, blood, and bruises. O,
what agony must this alone have caused
you? What lesions, traumatic fever, and horror
of nature must have arisen from this?
But what is all that—What?—compared with the violent hurling of your holy body onto the unplaned,
rough, and splintery wooden cross? There they must have renewed and broken open and made bloody
the wounds of lashing, torn open the cuts again, and pulled the weals wide apart so that
a mortal pain arose.
O you who embrace the entire globe, you
who stretch out heaven! How will you
be stretched out on the cross!
The Lent Series
Ash Wednesday: The Word Teaches Original Sin
First Week: Adam and Eve’s Complex Transgression
Second Week: The God of Nothing
Third Week: Christ the Snake
Fourth Week: Our Salvation is Still Not Perfect
Fifth Week: The Sins of the Saints
Holy Week: Miserably and Lamentably Stripped
Easter: What the Women Preached