By CHRISTINA ROSSETTI
This short poem, a meditation on the crucifixion of Jesus Christ which took place today roughly 2000 years ago, was written in 1896 by England’s best female poet, Christina Rossetti (pictured). The Crown of Thorns, which you see depicted below, was one of the most treasured of holy relics that miraculously survived the recent fire at Notre Dame Cathedral. Brought from Jerusalem to Europe, it was given to Louis IX of France in 1238 and later transferred to Notre Dame de Paris where it has been an object of veneration for almost 800 years.
Mathias Grünewald, Crucifixion (detail)
BENEATH THY CROSS
by Christina Rossetti
Am I a stone, and not a sheep,
That I can stand, O Christ, beneath thy cross,
To number drop by drop Thy Blood’s slow loss,
And yet not weep?
Not so those women loved
Who with exceeding grief lamented Thee;
Not so fallen Peter weeping bitterly;
Not so the thief was moved;
Not so the Sun and Moon
Which hid their faces in a starless sky,
A horror of great darkness at broad noon–
I, only I.
Yet give not o’er,
But seek Thy sheep, true Shepherd of the flock;
Greater than Moses, turn and look once more
And smite a rock.
— Christina Rossetti, 1896