In Matthew 27:29 we read:

"..and after twisting some thorns into a crown, they put it on his head. They put a reed in his right hand and knelt before him and mocked him, saying, “Hail, King of the Jews!”

I wish to know the name of the plant or the tree, the thorns of which were used by the soldiers to make the crown. Has the Catholic Church made some research into the nature and properties of the thorns?

2 Answers 2


From New Advent the following

With regard to the origin and character of the thorns, both tradition and existing remains suggest that they must have come from the bush botanically known as Zizyphus spina Christi, more popularly, the jujube-tree. This reaches the height of fifteen or twenty feet and is found growing in abundance by the wayside around Jerusalem. The crooked branches of this shrub are armed with thorns growing in pairs, a straight spine and a curved one commonly occurring together at each point. The relic preserved in the Capella della Spina at Pisa, as well as that at Trier, which though their early history is doubtful and obscure, are among the largest in size, afford a good illustration of this peculiarity.

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Picture is from Paliurus spina-christi Mill..

  • I found an English-language web page with this image and more, for attribution: flora.org.il/en/plants/PALSPN . I wanted to include the link to the full-size image, but probably we should not. We might want to reduce the size displayed here, in respect of the copyright. I wonder if SE has a bot or script for that?
    – Bit Chaser
    Commented Jan 6, 2019 at 23:00
  • There is an easy way to change thee size of a picture, but as far as I know there are only two choices: add 's' for small (quite small) or 'm' for medium, which seems to be the default anyway. If you want to try making it smaller, use i.sstatic.net/TDWuHs.jpg as the link. Probably no need as long as we credit the source.
    – Bit Chaser
    Commented Jan 7, 2019 at 2:46

What was the crown of thorn in the Lord's Passion made of?

The Church does not have a definitive answer to this question, but it leans towards a plant called the Christ's thorn jujube (Zizyphus spina-christi).

Ziziphus spina-christi, known as the Christ's thorn jujube, is an evergreen tree or plant native to northern and tropical Africa, Southern and Western Asia. It is native to the regions Levant, East Africa and some tropical countries.

In the Levant, a hundred years ago, it was called sidr (associated with the Lote-trees of the Quran) and was common in the Jordan Valley and around Jerusalem. There were some folklore traditions that said the trees were protected by benevolent spirits or dead saints (weli). By some traditions, it was the tree from which Jesus' crown of thorns was made.2 Easton argues that the spina-christi is too brittle to be bent into a crown, and suggests another local plant which he says is called "nabk."

The oldest known Ziziphus is located south of Jerusalem, in Ayn Husb, Palestine. It estimated to be about 2000 years old. It is believed locally to be the very tree from which Jesus' crown of thorns was made.

The Catholic Encyclopedia basically states that it was also the Zizyphus spina-Christi plant, more popularly known as the, the jujube-tree.

Image from The Passion of the Christ

Image from The Passion of the Christ.

Blessed Anne Catherine Emmerich, the 19th-century German nun and mystic whose visions of the Passion inspired Mel Gibson’s movie, The Passion of the Christ, described the crowning of thorns as follows:

In the middle of the court there stood the fragment of a pillar, and on it was placed a very low stool which these cruel men maliciously covered with sharp flints and bits of broken potsherds. Then they tore off the garments of Jesus, thereby reopening all his wounds; threw over his shoulders an old scarlet mantle which barely reached his knees; dragged him to the seat prepared, and pushed him roughly down upon it, having first placed the crown of thorns upon his head. The crown of thorns was made of three branches plaited together, the greatest part of the thorns being purposely turned inwards so as to pierce our Lord’s head. Having first placed these twisted branches on his forehead, they tied them tightly together at the back of his head, and no sooner was this accomplished to their satisfaction than they put a large reed into his hand, doing all with derisive gravity as if they were really crowning him king. They then seized the reed, and struck his head so violently that his eyes were filled with blood; they knelt before him, derided him, spat in his face, and buffeted him, saying at the same time, ‘Hail, King of the Jews!’ Then they threw down his stool, pulled him up again from the ground on which he had fallen, and reseated him with the greatest possible brutality.

Emmerich, Anna Catherine (2011-03-30). The Dolorous Passion of Our Lord Jesus Christ (Kindle Locations 2934-2942). . Kindle Edition.

Sainte-Chapelle, if you are unfamiliar with it, is not simply a little museum for relics of the French royal households. It is a “chapel” (though one could be excused for considering it a cathedral) and is considered one of the great masterworks of Gothic architecture in all of Europe. That Sainte-Chapelle was built primarily to house this relic gives some sense of its great historical importance to the faithful.

While it is impossible to know if this is the actual crown of thorns, it has been venerated as such for many hundreds of years. It is one of the treasures of Christendom, and only makes rare public appearances. - Is This Relic Really Christ’s Crown of Thorns?

Relic of the crown of thorns, bought by Louis IX from Baldwin II. It is preserved today in Notre Dame de Paris.

Relic of the Crown of Thorns, bought by Louis IX from Baldwin II. It is preserved today in Notre Dame de Paris.

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