Was Jesus pierced in his heart on the cross?


Is there a teaching from the Church what caused the blood and water to leave his side?


No, he was pierced in the side by a Roman Centurion


did it reach his heart?


Probably not


Blood and water, yes
His heart? No, just his side.


The blood and water indicate how He died.


Haydock Commentary on John 19:34 is:

But one of the soldiers with a spear opened his side, and immediately there came out blood and water.

Ver. 34. There came out blood and water, which naturally could not come from a dead body. Wi. — Hence it is, that the sacred mysteries flow; as often, therefore, as thou approachest the awful cup, approach it as if thou wert going to drink from thy Saviour’s sacred side. S. Chrys. hom. lxxxiv. in Joan. — The holy Fathers say, that the spouse of Jesus Christ was here taken out of his side, whilst sleeping on the cross, as Eve was from Adam’s side, when he was cast asleep in Paradise.


Medical opinion has it that blood and water can indeed flow by the method that crucifixion kills someone. From their body.


The Gospel doesn’t give a clear answer to that question one way or the other.

It may be of interest to note that, a couple of verses earlier, “the Jews” ask Pilate to hasten the death of the three men who have been crucified, so that their bodies may be taken down before sunset when the Sabbath begins. But that is to be done by breaking their legs, not by stabbing them in the heart.


The two crucified with Jesus have their legs broken because they are still alive. Jesus is already dead, so He is speared in the side just to make sure.

It fulfils the prophecy that He will not have his bones broken, in the Old Testament.


Jesus’ passion was undoubted bloody, but the lancing was probably the source of the most significant bleeding (just my private opinion). The “water” might have been a plural effusion but I haven’t seen the studies of how death is caused by crucifixion.

Historically, I think this substantiates that Jesus died on the cross, if it was not already obvious.

Some reading I did last night inspired me a lot, reading about Jesus death. WHY did Jesus have to die? The short answer is that Jesus became a sacrifice for our sins, as was foretold in prophecies and attested to by “typology” in the Old Testament connecting it to the New Testament (like the suffering servant in Isaiah).

The big insight that impressed me is that God could not die in this fashion for the salvation of humanity. God had to take a human form in order to die a sacrificial death. So, there was a logical necessity for God to assume a human form, in order to carry out the plan for salvation.


According to tradition (small “t”), as reflected in the Litany to the Sacred Heart (which was approved by Pope Leo XIII in 1899), YES, the centurion’s lance pierced all the way through to His heart.
Pope Pius XII wrote a commentary in which he also said that there can be no doubt that the lance pierced Christ’s heart.


And yet, in sacred art – as here by Raphael – the wound is often shown on Christ’s right side, not his left.



Deacon Jeff is absolutely correct…a trained Roman centurion would know that piercing the heart would end
Our Lords life at once. My Jesus , please forgive me and my sins that really caused your death.
Please forgive me.


PS If you look carefully at the many art depictions of Our Lord’s Sacred Heart , almost ALL of them
show the lance’s cut plainly.


Exactly. So if it was the soldiers’ purpose to kill Jesus – or to make sure he was dead – by stabbing him in the heart, why didn’t they do the same to the two thieves? Why did they break their legs instead?


Was breaking the legs possibly meant to cause death for the crucified person making it unable for the crucified person to use their feet to lift themselves to breathe or something like that? :thinking:?

Jesus’s side being pierced was maybe more like a double check He was dead?:thinking:?


Someone nailed to a crucifix with their arms stretched out on either side could expect to live for no more than 24 hours. Seven-inch nails would be driven through the wrists so that the bones there could support the body’s weight. The nail would sever the median nerve, which not only caused immense pain but would have paralysed the victim’s hands.

The feet were nailed to the upright part of the crucifix, so that the knees were bent at around 45 degrees. To speed death, executioners would often break the legs of their victims to give no chance of using their thigh muscles as support. It was probably unnecessary, as their strength would not have lasted more than a few minutes even if they were unharmed.

Once the legs gave out, the weight would be transferred to the arms, gradually dragging the shoulders from their sockets. The elbows and wrists would follow a few minutes later; by now, the arms would be six or seven inches longer. The victim would have no choice but to bear his weight on his chest. He would immediately have trouble breathing as the weight caused the rib cage to lift up and force him into an almost perpetual state of inhalation.


Folks, artwork is artwork. It conveys truth, but not literalist truth. Art is not dogma. By the same token, pious traditions that the lance pierced Jesus’ heart are not dogma either.
And at the same time, from the sacrifice of Christ pours forth the water that sanctifies souls, and the blood that is the life of our souls. Pious traditions point us to the depth of of Christ’s sacrifice. As does art. It;s all good as they say.

What actually happened materially cannot be proven, so look deeper please at the spiritual realities. Christ gave everything for us.


I’d like to read that, if it’s available either online or in print. At first glance it strikes me as rather rash for any Bible commentary, by any author, to assert that “there can be no doubt” about it, given that the question is left unanswered in the only one of the four Gospels that even mentions the incident.

DISCLAIMER: The views and opinions expressed in these forums do not necessarily reflect those of Catholic Answers. For official apologetics resources please visit www.catholic.com.