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Question:

When we see a statue or picture of our Lord, we find the right side depicted as pierced. Is there any reason for this ? Is it to be taken in such a way that the lance was forced through the whole body of our Divine Lord, so also to have pierced His Sacred Heart? 

Answer:

The general opinion, held from the beginning and represented in early Christian art, is that it was the right side of our Lord which was pierced by the Roman soldier's lance. The apocryphal gospels of "Nicodemus" and of the "Childhood of Jesus", as well as the Ethiopic version of the Gospel, uphold this opinion.1 The stigmata of St. Francis of Assisi, as well as those of other similarly favored saints, are also confirmatory of this tradition. Cornelius a Lapide thinks that the lance penetrated the right side, passed through the heart and the pericardium, the point opening a small wound at the left breast. Prudentius has immortalized this statement in several passages. Thus in his poem on the Passion : 

Trajectus per utrumque latus laticem atque cruorem
Christus agit: sanguis victoria lympha lavacrum est. 

And again in the Peristephanon (Hymn 8) : 

Ipse loci est Dominus, laterum cui vulnere utroque.
Hinc cruor effusus fluxit, et inde latex. 

Cornelius a Lapide takes this expression of Prudentius to mean that the crassamentum (cruor, blood) may have passed out through the right side wound, as being the larger opening; and in such abundance that the serum (the water, latex) was not noticeable there; whereas through the smaller wound on the left side the water from the pierced pericardium made its appearance. Since the left opening was very small, it is not counted with the Five Wounds. However this may be, the opinion that the left side was directly pierced can at most be declared to be less probable, but not improbable. We have no certainty on the subject.

  • 1. Maas, Life of Jesus Christ, p. 546.