A historical and devotional re-enactment

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In 1239, Dominican friars gave King Louis IX of France what Christians believed was the crown of thorns placed on the head of Jesus after His trial by Pontius Pilate. The crown was kept on His head as a way of mocking the Savior on His path on the Via Dolorosa to the cross.

King Louis, canonized as St. Louis in 1297 by Pope Boniface VIII, built a shrine, Sainte Chapelle, to house the relic. The crown of thorns is now housed at the Cathedral of Notre Dame in Paris and is venerated every Friday during Lent.

To commemorate the relic's arrival in France, the students of St. Louis School in Alexandria, named for the French saint, re-enacted the friars' journey with the crown of thorns to the king and its final place of veneration in Paris.

The program, initiated by Father Matthew H. Zuberbueler, pastor, featured St. Louis students in period garb, recreating the journey of the crown of thorns to the king and its eight-day travel by river boat, represented in cardboard, to the king's palace in Vincennes.

St. Louis students lined the procession route and cheered and prayed as the king, played by eighth-grader Michael Hooper, stepped up on a platform and held the crown up for the crowd to venerate.

Father Zuberbueler then processed with the crown to the sanctuary, where it was placed on Jesus' head on the crucifix behind the altar.

Many parents watched the reenactment. One mother was fighting back tears as she watched her two sons in the play.

"It was so beautiful," said Catherine Rastovski. "I hope they do it every year."

Principal Kathleen McNutt also hoped that the inaugural re-enactment would continue in the future saying it was a terrific event and all the students did a great job.

© Arlington Catholic Herald 2016