At John 20:24-27 (NRSVCE) we see:

But Thomas (who was called the Twin), one of the twelve, was not with them when Jesus came. So the other disciples told him, “We have seen the Lord.” But he said to them, “Unless I see the mark of the nails in his hands, and put my finger in the mark of the nails and my hand in his side, I will not believe.

A week later his disciples were again in the house, and Thomas was with them. Although the doors were shut, Jesus came and stood among them and said, “Peace be with you.” Then he said to Thomas, “Put your finger here and see my hands. Reach out your hand and put it in my side. Do not doubt but believe.”

My question is: Why was it necessary for Jesus to retain the wounds he had received at the cross, even after His glorious resurrection? Was it done to convince the disciples that it was Jesus Himself appearing before them, or was it a symbolic statement that Jesus continues to suffer for the sins of mankind? What do the teachings of Catholic Church say about the post-resurrection wound marks of Jesus?

  • Besides Geremia's answer, one thing I often hear when talking about these wounds is the proof of Jesus' unalterable humanity: once incarnate, he always bears the marks of his time on Earth, not losing them after the resurrection or even his return to Heaven; cp. Rev. 5:6 in which John sees on the throne "a lamb looking as if thad been slain". Commented Apr 17, 2018 at 21:51
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    Some note should be made of the occasionally-advanced theory that Jesus did not actually die on the cross, and was still living when taken down. But of course this is in conflict with virtually all church doctrine regarding the Resurrection.
    – Hot Licks
    Commented Apr 18, 2018 at 1:16
  • christianity.stackexchange.com/q/30551/23657. Have you seen this question ?
    – 007
    Commented Apr 18, 2018 at 2:53
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    I can't find any evidence to show that this is a Catholic interpretation of the scripture so I won't post this an an answer, but in Zechariah 13:6, if we take the Husbandman to be a symbol for Christ, different translations refer to the Husbandman having marks on His body, which could be in reference to the spear wound or the wounds on the hands. In particular, the KJT says wounds in hands. Wherever the marks, they were received "in the house of my friends," which for Christ would be Jerusalem. So keeping the marks would be fulfilling an OT prophecy.
    – Davy M
    Commented Apr 18, 2018 at 4:46
  • @HotLicks getting jabbed in the gut area after countless beatings will lead to death very quickly. Though it is said he gave up his soul, rather than death from wounds, and the spear blow was just the soldiers making sure he was dead. Commented Apr 18, 2018 at 20:30

1 Answer 1


St. Thomas Aquinas addresses the question of "Whether Christ's body ought to have risen with its scars?" in Summa Theologica III q. 54 a. 4. He gives five reasons (c.):

It was fitting for Christ's soul at His Resurrection to resume the body with its scars.

  1. for Christ's own glory. For Bede says on Lk. 24:40 that He kept His scars not from inability to heal them, "but to wear them as an everlasting trophy of His victory." Hence Augustine says (De Civ. Dei xxii):

    Perhaps in that kingdom we shall see on the bodies of the Martyrs the traces of the wounds which they bore for Christ's name: because it will not be a deformity, but a dignity in them; and a certain kind of beauty will shine in them, in the body, though not of the body.

  2. to confirm the hearts of the disciples as to "the faith in His Resurrection" (Bede, on Lk. 24:40).

  3. "that when He pleads for us with the Father, He may always show the manner of death He endured for us" (Bede, on Lk. 24:40).

  4. "that He may convince those redeemed in His blood, how mercifully they have been helped, as He exposes before them the traces of the same death" (Bede, on Lk. 24:40).

  5. "that in the Judgment-day He may upbraid them with their just condemnation" (Bede, on Lk. 24:40). Hence, as Augustine says (De Symb. ii):

    Christ knew why He kept the scars in His body. For, as He showed them to Thomas who would not believe except he handled and saw them, so will He show His wounds to His enemies, so that He who is the Truth may convict them, saying:
    Behold the man whom you crucified; see the wounds you inflicted; recognize the side you pierced, since it was opened by you and for you, yet you would not enter.

  • Good answer, though I disagree on saying he was just a spirit after his death. Saying he is a spirit implies death. I think he still possesses his physical form, alive. (Just a small critique) Commented Apr 18, 2018 at 20:33
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    @TheMattbat999 When He was dead and descended into hell, His body and soul were separate, although His divinity was still united to both.
    – Geremia
    Commented Apr 18, 2018 at 20:41
  • Well, descended into Paradise (still part of Hell, however) to bring the Saints there to heaven. That makes sense though. Commented Apr 18, 2018 at 20:46
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    @TheMattbat999 "descended into Paradise"? That makes no sense. He descended into hell, specifically the limbo of hell or of the Patriarchs (limbus inferni seu patrum), also known as "Abraham's bosom."
    – Geremia
    Commented Apr 18, 2018 at 21:27
  • That is another name for Abraham's bosom that I had heard it referred to. Commented Apr 18, 2018 at 22:25

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