E. Cobham Brewer 18101897. Dictionary of Phrase and Fable. 1898.
Thorn in the Flesh (A).
Something to mortify; a skeleton in the cupboard. The allusion is to a custom common
amongst the ancient Pharisees, one class of which used to insert thorns in the borders of their gaberdines to prick their legs in walking and make them bleed. (See PHARISEES.)