Jesus is nailed to the Cross -Maria Valtorta

An edited excerpt from Maria Valtorta’s 28-page description of the Crucifixion. 

The two malefactors to be crucified with the Lord will be fastened to their crosses with ropes, rather than being nailed. The executioners offer the condemned men three rags, so that they may tie them round their groins. […] Jesus, Who strips Himself slowly because of the pangs of the wounds, refuses it. He perhaps thinks that He can keep on the short drawers, which He had on also during the flagellation. But when He is told to take them off as well, He stretches out His hand to beg for the rag of the executioners to conceal His nakedness. Valtorta remarks that He is really the Annihilated One to the extent of having to ask a rag of criminals.


The Blessed Virgin has noticed everything and She removes the long thin white veil covering Her head under Her dark mantle, and on which She has already shed so many tears. She […] gives it to John so that he may hand it to Longinus for Her Son. The centurion takes the veil without any objection and, when he sees that Jesus is about to strip Himself completely, facing the side where there are no people, and thus turning towards the crowd His back furrowed with bruises and blisters, and covered with sores and dark crusts that are bleeding again, he gives Him His Mother's linen veil. Jesus recognizes it and wraps it round His pelvis several times […]. And on the linen veil, so far soaked only with tears, the first drops of blood begin to fall, because many of the wounds, just covered with blood-clots, have reopened again [...] and blood is streaming down.


Jesus now turns towards the crowd. And one can thus see that also His chest, legs and arms have all been struck by the scourges. At the height of His liver there is a huge bruise, and under His left costal arch there are seven clear stripes in relief, […] a cruel blow of a scourge in such a sensitive region of the diaphragm. His knees, bruised by repeated falls that began immediately after He was captured and ended on Calvary, are dark with hematomas and the knee-caps are torn, particularly the right one, by a large bleeding wound.


The crowds and bystanders scoff at Him in chorus: […] “Oh! Oh! the Perfect One! Are You the Son of God? Certainly not. You are the abortion of Satan! At least he, Mammon, is powerful and strong. You... are in rags, You are powerless and revolting.”


The robbers are tied to the crosses with ropes and they arecarried to their places, one to the right, one to the left, with regard to the place destined to Jesus. They howl, swear, curse, particularly when the crosses are carried to the holes, and […] their oaths against God, the Law, the Romans, the Judaeans are hellish.


It is Jesus' turn. He lies on the cross meekly. […] He lies down and places His head where they tell Him. He stretches out His arms and His legs as He is told. He only takes care to arrange His veil properly. Now His long, slender pale body stands out against the dark wood and the yellow ground. Two executioners sit on His chest to hold Him fast. Valtorta laments as she thinks of the oppression and pain He must have felt under that weight. A third one takes His right arm, holding Him with one hand on the first part of His forearm and the other on the tips of His fingers.


The fourth executioner, who already has in his hand the long sharp-pointed quadrangular nail, ending with a round flat head, as big as a large coin of bygone days, watches whether the hole already made in the wood corresponds to the radius-ulnar joint of the wrist. It does. The executioner places the point of the nail on the wrist, he raises the hammer and gives the first stroke. Jesus, Who had closed His eyes, utters a cry and has a contraction because of the sharp pain, and opens His eyes flooded with tears. Valtorta comments that the pain He suffers must be dreadful...


The nail penetrates, tearing muscles, veins, nerves, shattering bones… Mary replies to the cry of Her tortured Son with a groan that sounds almost like the moaning of a slaughtered lamb; and She bends, as if She were crushed, holding Her head in Her hands. In order not to torture Her, Jesus utters no more cries. 


But the strokes continue, methodical and hard, iron striking iron […] The right hand is now nailed. They pass on to the left one. The hole in the wood does not correspond to the carpus. So they take a rope, they tie it to the left wrist and they pull it until the joint is dislocated, tearing tendons and muscles, besides lacerating the skin already cut into by the ropes used to capture Him. The other hand must suffer as well, because it is stretched as a consequence, and the hole in it widens round the nail.


Now the beginning of the metacarpus, near the wrist, hardly arrives at the hole. They resign themselves and they nail the hand where they can, that is, between the thumb and the other fingers, just in the middle of the metacarpus. The nail penetrates more easily here, but with greater pain, because it cuts important nerves, so that the fingers remain motionless, whilst those of the right hand have contractions and tremors that denote their vitality. But Jesus no longer utters cries, He only moans in a deep hoarse voice with His lips firmly closed, while tears of pain fall on the ground after falling on the wood.


It is now the turn of His feet. At two meters and more from the foot of the cross there is a small wedge, hardly sufficient for one foot. Both feet are placed on it to see whether it is in the right spot, and as it is a little low and the feet hardly reach it, they pull the poor Martyr […] so that the coarse wood of the cross rubs on the wounds, moves the crown that tears His hair once again and is on the point of falling. One of the executioners presses it down on His head again with a slap...


Those who were sitting on Jesus' chest, now get up to move to His knees, because Jesus with an involuntary movement withdraws His legs upon seeing the very long nail, which is twice as long and thick as those used for the hands, shine in the sunshine. They weigh on His flayed knees and press on His poor bruised shins, while the other two are performing the much more difficult operation of nailing one foot on top of the other, trying to combine the two joints of the tarsi.


Although they try to keep the feet still, [...] the foot underneath is shifted by the vibrations of the nail, and […] is to be moved a little closer to the center. And they hammer, and hammer, and hammer... Only the dreadful noise of the hammer striking the head of the nail is heard, because all Calvary is nothing but eyes and ears to perceive acts and noises and rejoice...


The harsh noise of iron is accompanied by the low plaintive lament of a dove: the hoarse groaning of Mary, Who bends more and more at each stroke, as if the hammer wounded Her, the Martyr Mother. And one understands that She is about to be crushed by such torture. Valtorta remarks that while crucifixion is dreadful, equal to flagellation with regard to pain, it is more cruel to be seen, because one sees the nails disappear in the flesh. But in compensation it is shorter, whereas flagellation is enervating because of its duration.


The cross is now dragged near the hole and it jerks on the uneven ground shaking the poor Crucified. The cross is raised and twice it slips out of the hands of those raising it; the first time it falls with a crash, the second time it falls on its right arm, causing terrible pain to Jesus, because the jerk He receives shakes His wounded limbs. But when they let the cross drop into its hole and before being made fast with stones and earth, it sways in all directions, continuously shifting the poor Body, hanging from three nails – the suffering must be atrocious.


All the weight of the body moves forward and downwards, and the holes become wider, particularly the one of the left hand, and also the hole of the feet widens out, while the blood drips more copiously. And if that of the feet trickles along the toes onto the ground and along the wood of the cross, that of the hands runs along the forearms, as the wrists are higher up than the armpits, because of the position, and it trickles down the sides from the armpits towards the waist [as indicated in the Holy Shroud]. When the cross sways, before being fastened, the crown moves, because the head falls back knocking against the wood and drives the thick knot of thorns, at the end of the prickly crown, into the nape of the neck, then it lies again on the forehead, scratching it mercilessly.


At long last the cross is made fast and there is only the torture of being suspended.

This edited excerpt is based on Chapter 605 of The Poem of the Man-God, by Maria Valtorta.