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Feast of the Most Sacred Linen

Friday after the Second Sunday of Lent

Feast of the Most Sacred Linen (sindon)

And Joseph, taking the body, wrapped it up in a clean linen cloth, and laid it in his own new sepulchre. (Matthew 27:59-60)

I. According to a mystery, this linen cloth (sindon) signifies three things.

1° It signifies the clean flesh of Christ. For it comes from flax, which is whitened by great pressure; thus the flesh of Christ through great pressure arrived at the radiance of the resurrection; thus it is written, and thus it behooved Christ to suffer, and to rise again from the dead (Luke 24:46).

2° It signifies the Church, which has neither spot nor wrinkle; and this is signified by the linen, which is woven together out of various fibers.

3° It signifies a clean conscience, where Christ rests.

II. - And laid it in his own new sepulchre.

It says first that it was his own. And it was fitting enough that the one who had died for the sins of others should be buried in the tomb of others.

Also, he says, new, for if another body had been placed there, it would not be known who had risen. The other reason was that it was appropriate that he who was born of a Virgin should be buried in a new tomb, so that just as there was no one before or after him in the womb of Mary, so also in this tomb. This also indicates to us that by faith Christ is hidden in the newborn soul: that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith (Eph 3:17).

And it is added: Now there was in the place where he was crucified, a garden; and in the garden a new sepulchre. (John 19:41)

Christ was arrested in a garden, underwent his agony in a garden, and was buried in a garden. This indicates to us that by the power of Christ’s passion we are freed from the sin which Adam committed in the garden of delights, and that through Christ the Church is made holy, the Church, which itself is like a garden enclosed.

(Selections from the Commentary on the Gospel according to St Matthew, C27.L2 and the Commentary on the Gospel according to St John, C19.L6)

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