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Home > Theology > The Future of the Church and the World > Claims of Private Revelation: True or False?

A Refutation of the "15 Secret Tortures and Sufferings of Jesus"

Some persons claim, based on private revelation, that Jesus suffered 15 secret tortures and sufferings for our salvation in the night between the agony in the garden (on Maundy Thursday) and the next morning (Good Friday).

Sacred Tradition and Sacred Scripture contain Divine Revelation, including all that is needed for salvation. All the teachings on faith, morals, and salvation which are a part of the Catholic Faith are found in Tradition and Scripture, at least implicitly. The Magisterium teaches from Sacred Tradition and Sacred Scripture. These three sources, Tradition, Scripture, Magisterium, give to the faithful the truths of the Catholic Faith.

There have been true private revelations to holy persons throughout the history of the Church. However, such true private revelations, even to Saints, do not contain anything required for salvation, do not contain any dogmas or doctrines, nor anything else essential to faith, morals, or salvation. There have also been false private revelations in the history of the Church.

The alleged private revelation of the "15 tortures" is quoted below. (There are, however, a number of different versions, with minor differences in wording, of this claimed private revelation.)
The Jews considered Me as the most wretched man living on earth, that is why:
(1) They fastened My legs with rope and dragged Me over the stepping stones of the staircase, down into the filthy, nauseating cellar;
(2) They took off My clothing and stung My body with iron joints;
(3) They attached a rope around My body and dragged Me on the floor, and then threw Me from wall to wall;
(4) They hung Me on a wooden beam with a loose knot from which I slipped and fell to the ground. Overwhelmed by this torture, I wept tears of blood.
(5) They tied Me to a post and pierced My body with various tools and weapons;
(6) They struck Me with stones and burnt Me with blazing embers and torches;
(7) They pierced Me with awls; sharp spears tore My skin, flesh and arteries out of My body;
(8) They tied Me to a post and made Me stand barefoot on a heated metal sheet;
(9) They crowned Me with an iron crown and wrapped My eyes with the dirtiest possible rags;
(10) They sat Me on a chair with pointed nails, causing deep wounds in My body;
(11) They poured on My wounds molten lead and tar, and after this torture pressed Me again on the nailed chair, so that the nails went deeper and deeper into My flesh;
(12) To shame and torment Me, they drove needles into the holes of My uprooted beard;
(13) They threw on Me a cross and tied Me so tightly that I could hardly breathe;
(14) When I fell to the ground, they stomped on My head. One of them stepped on My chest, then took a thorn from My crown and drove it into My tongue;
(15) They poured into My mouth the most immodest excretions, as they uttered the most infamous expressions about Me. Then they tied My hands behind My back and led Me out of jail with strikes and blows.
These 15 tortures cannot be a true description of the sufferings of Christ, for the following 15 reasons:
I. The sufferings of Christ during His Passion are essential to our salvation. All the truths essential to salvation are found in Sacred Tradition and Sacred Scripture. But these 15 tortures are not found in Tradition or Scripture.

II. These secret tortures and sufferings are so severe that they compete with, and claim to exceed, the actual sufferings of Christ as described in Sacred Scripture.

III. The underlying premise of these "15 secret tortures" is that the physical sufferings of Jesus are of greater importance and greater severity than the suffering of his soul. These claimed "15 secret sufferings" show no concern or acknowledgement of the interior sufferings of Christ. They present Christ's suffering as if it were merely of the body.

For truly Christ knew that He was being crucified by the sins of humanity, and yet he loved humanity all the more. This suffering of the soul was Christ's greatest suffering, much more so than physical tortures.

IV. Another implication of these 15 tortures is that the greatness of Christ's sacrifice is to be found in the severity of the physical pains and in the extreme nature of the physical tortures. These are presented as if Christ's sacrifice would not be greatest unless he was tortured physically more than anyone else. But, to the contrary, Sacred Scripture tells us that Christ remained on the Cross for less time than the two thieves crucified with Him; their legs were broken to speed their deaths, whereas His legs were not broken because he died sooner.

V. These 15 tortures are so severe as to be more than sufficient to cause death in and of themselves. Yet Christ survived to be crucified. For example, if sharp spears had torn arteries from His body, as is claimed, this would be sufficient to cause Him to bleed to death. Also, being stomped on the head and chest could cause a fatal wound. Even being dragged down a stone staircase and then thrown repeatedly against a stone wall could cause death. But all of these 15 tortures put together are far beyond what would be needed to kill.

VI. There is no evidence from the Shroud of Turin of these kind of severe tortures. All of the wounds of the Shroud are explained by the sufferings depicted in Sacred Scripture. There is no evidence of the severe burns that would be caused by "blazing embers and torches" and "molten lead," nor is there evidence of deep puncture wounds as in tortures 5 and 10.

VII. Sacred Scripture tells us that Christ was protected from having any of His bones broken (John 19:36). But these 15 tortures include physical assaults of more than sufficient severity to break bones, including being dragged down stone stairs, being thrown against a stone wall, being struck with stones, and having the head and chest stomped on.

VIII. These secret sufferings supposedly happened between the agony in the garden and the next morning, before Christ was heard by Pilate. After a night of such severe assaults, He would not have been able to endure scourging and then have been able to carry His cross (even with help from Simon the Cyrene).

IX. The Jews did not stone Jesus to death themselves, even though they had convicted him of blasphemy, because the Romans did not permit the Jews to punish anyone with death. Neither would the Romans have permitted the Jews, or anyone else, to inflict such severe physical tortures on anyone, without first having his case heard before the Romans (cf. Acts 25:16).

X. Pilate would have noticed the physical effects of such severe torture, and yet there is no reaction from him to such physical signs of torture in the Gospels. Pilate would have strongly objected if anyone in the territory ruled by him had inflict a severe punishment apart from his authority.

XI. The Jewish leaders would not have been able to bring Christ before Pilate the next morning, so as to make their accusations that Jesus was rebelling against Caesar, if they themselves had rebelled against Roman authority by the severe torture of Jesus before His case had been heard.

XII. The Jewish leaders would not have needed to bring Christ before Pilate, if they were able to inflict on Jesus the 15 tortures that are claimed. Those 15 tortures are more severe than the Crucifixion and just as likely to be deadly.

XIII. Just as God the Father did not permit Jesus Christ to have even one broken bone, so also God the Father would not have permitted "the most immodest excretions" to be put into the mouth of the Savior.

XIV. The suffering of Christ for our salvation has never been a secret, for He was tortured and killed in a public execution by the Jews, and the Apostles were appointed by God to be witnesses of His salvific suffering. But these 15 secret tortures were not witnessed by the Apostles. God would not have kept secret from the Church a set of severe sufferings by Christ, which are alleged to be a part of His suffering for our salvation.

XV. The salvific suffering of Jesus Christ for our salvation was foretold in Sacred Scripture in the Old Testament. There are numerous prophecies of the sufferings of Christ in the Old Testament, which were fulfilled in the New Testament:
{26:31} Then Jesus said to them: "You will all fall away from me in this night. For it has been written: 'I will strike the shepherd, and the sheep of the flock will be scattered.'

{26:52} Then Jesus said to him: "Put your sword back in its place. For all who take up the sword shall perish by the sword.
{26:53} Or do you think that I cannot ask my Father, so that he would give me, even now, more than twelve legions of Angels?
{26:54} How then would the Scriptures be fulfilled, which say that it must be so?"
{26:55} In that same hour, Jesus said to the crowds: "You went out, as if to a robber, with swords and clubs to seize me. Yet I sat daily with you, teaching in the temple, and you did not take hold of me.
{26:56} But all this has happened so that the Scriptures of the prophets may be fulfilled." Then all the disciples fled, abandoning him.

{27:9} Then what was spoken by the prophet Jeremiah was fulfilled, saying, "And they took the thirty pieces of silver, the price of the one being appraised, whom they appraised before the sons of Israel,
{27:10} and they gave it for the potter's field, just as the Lord appointed to me."

{27:35} Then, after they had crucified him, they divided his garments, casting lots, in order to fulfill what was spoken by the prophet, saying: "They divided my garments among them, and over my vestment they cast lots."

{14:47} Then a certain one of those standing near, drawing a sword, struck a servant of the high priest and cut off his ear.
{14:48} And in response, Jesus said to them: "Have you set out to apprehend me, just as if to a robber, with swords and clubs?
{14:49} Daily, I was with you in the temple teaching, and you did not take hold of me. But in this way, the scriptures are fulfilled."

{15:28} And the scripture was fulfilled, which says: "And with the iniquitous he was reputed."

{22:37} For I say to you, that what has been written must still be fulfilled in me: 'And he was esteemed with the wicked.' Yet even these things about me have an end."

{24:44} And he said to them: "These are the words that I spoke to you when I was still with you, because all things must be fulfilled which are written in the law of Moses, and in the Prophets, and in the Psalms about me."
{24:45} Then he opened their mind, so that they might understand the Scriptures.
{24:46} And he said to them: "For so it is written, and so it was necessary, for the Christ to suffer and to rise up from the dead on the third day,
{24:47} and, in his name, for repentance and the remission of sins to be preached, among all the nations, beginning at Jerusalem.
{24:48} And you are witnesses of these things.

{13:18} I am not speaking about all of you. I know those whom I have chosen. But this is so that the Scripture may be fulfilled, "He who eats bread with me shall lift up his heel against me."

{15:25} But this is so that the word may be fulfilled which was written in their law: 'For they hated me without cause.'

{17:12} While I was with them, I preserved them in your name. I have guarded those whom you have given to me, and not one of them is lost, except the son of perdition, so that the Scripture may be fulfilled.

{19:24} Then they said to one another, "Let us not cut it, but instead let us cast lots over it, to see whose it will be." This was so that the Scripture would be fulfilled, saying: "They have distributed my garments among themselves, and for my vesture they have cast lots." And indeed, the soldiers did these things.

{19:36} For these things happened so that the Scripture would be fulfilled: "You shall not break a bone of him."
{19:37} And again, another Scripture says: "They shall look upon him, whom they have pierced."
But none of the 15 secret tortures are prophesied at all in the Old Testament. And none of the 15 secret tortures are mentioned at all in the New Testament.
Therefore, for all of the above 15 reasons, the so-called "15 secret tortures and sufferings of Jesus" are not historical events and did not occur at all. This claimed private revelation is false.

The sufferings of Jesus Christ for our salvation are those sufferings prophesied by the Old Testament and fully revealed in the New Testament. These are the sufferings witnessed by the Apostles, and the Virgin Mary, and the other disciples. The faithful have meditated on these sufferings throughout the history of the Church, in unbroken succession. These sufferings and no others are an integral and fundamental part of the Sacred Tradition with has always been lived by the Church, in imitation of her suffering Savior.

by Ronald L. Conte Jr.
May 10, 2007

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