The Sorrowful Mysteries: The Crowning with Thorns and a Different Kind of King

Crowning with Thorns - image by Frank Vincentz, CC BY-SA 3.0, via Wikimedia Commons

Today we pause to reflect on the Third Sorrowful Mystery of the Rosary: the Crowning with Thorns.

According to the Gospel accounts of Jesus’ Passion, Jesus was mocked by the Roman soldiers. One of these acts of mockery was to place a crown of thorns on Jesus’ head to ridicule the king of the Jews. This mockery went further with the placing of a purple robe on Jesus’ wounded body and a sign placed above his head on the Cross: Jesus of Nazareth—King of the Jews (abbreviated as INRI, for the Latin Iēsus Nazarēnus, Rēx Iūdæōrum).

The crown, however, is the central symbol of royalty. The crown is a symbol of divine power, dignity, and authority. A king or queen is seen as a representative of the Divine and thus, imbued with divine qualities. In their mockery of Jesus, the Roman soldiers unwittingly divinized the act of laying down one’s life, since this is precisely what Jesus was doing when they conducted their mock coronation. This is the kind of king—and the kind of God—that Jesus is: One who lays down his life for his people.

What does this mean for us? Just as subjects take cues from their royal leaders, we are to take this cue from Christ the King: we are to lay down our lives for others. While the ultimate example of laying down one’s life is to physically die for others, we are all called to lay down our lives—set aside our own needs in order to serve the needs of others—in a myriad of ways each day.

As this Lent progresses, let us each commit to imitating our king and lay down our lives for others, putting their needs before our own.


Deepen your understanding of the Rosary by reading The Rosary: A Path into Prayer by Elizabeth M. Kelly and The Complete Rosary: A Guide to Praying the Mysteries by William G. Storey.

Image by Frank VincentzCC BY-SA 3.0, via Wikimedia Commons.

About Joe Paprocki 2528 Articles
Joe Paprocki, DMin, is National Consultant for Faith Formation at Loyola Press, where, in addition to his traveling/speaking responsibilities, he works on the development team for faith formation curriculum resources including Finding God: Our Response to God’s Gifts and God’s Gift: Reconciliation and Eucharist. Joe has more than 35 years of experience in ministry and has presented keynotes, presentations, and workshops in more than 100 dioceses in North America. Joe is a frequent presenter at national conferences including the Los Angeles Religious Education Congress, the Mid-Atlantic Congress, and the National Conference for Catechetical Leadership. He is the author of numerous books, including the best seller The Catechist’s Toolbox, A Church on the Move, Under the Influence of Jesus, and Called to Be Catholic—a bilingual, foundational supplemental program that helps young people know their faith and grow in their relationship with God. Joe is also the series editor for the Effective Catechetical Leader and blogs about his experiences in faith formation at www.catechistsjourney.com.

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