Tuesday, October 18, 2011


Stations Sculpted in Relief Circle the Walls
Hello My Friend and Welcome

We have what I believe will be a very interesting post today. It covers two inter-connected topics…the mostly Catholic practice of honoring and praying the Stations of the Cross as mentioned in the header, but also a particular life-sized representation of those Stations in Texas.

The Stations of the Cross grew out of the popularity of pilgrimages during the mediaeval period and earlier in the Church’s history. Jerusalem was a particularly popular destination as it contained all of the places of the Lord’s passion, death and burial so familiar to believers.

The stations and the practice of pilgrimage would be incomplete without a mention of St. Helena, mother of Constantine the Great. Upon the death of his father, Constantine became Emperor and summoned his mother to the imperial court and conferred the title of Augusta on her as mother of the sovereign. She converted to Christianity after her son’s victory over Maxentius…the battle in which he had a vision telling him he would conquer under the sign of the cross.

As Empress, Helena traveled to Palestine and, with the aid of Eusebius and others, identified the places that played a key role in the life of Christ and constructed churches on those spots. Then, after she “had shown due veneration to the footsteps of the Saviour”, she had two churches erected for the worship of God. One was raised in Bethlehem near the Grotto of the Nativity, the other on the Mount of the Ascension, near Jerusalem.

Of course, not everyone had the time and resources of the Empress of the world. The common folk were left to linger at home, yearning to walk in the footsteps of Christ, but not able to afford the trip. To meet this need the monastery of San Stefano at Bologna constructed a group of connected chapels in the fifth century, which were intended to represent the more important shrines of Jerusalem. As a consequence, the monastery became known as Hierusalem — the Latin name for Jerusalem.

These chapels can be regarded as the germ of the concept from which the Stations later developed, though nothing that we have before about the fifteenth century can strictly be called a Way of the Cross in the modern sense. However, several travelers who visited the Holy Land during the twelfth, thirteenth, and fourteenth centuries, mention a Via Sacra, a settled route along which pilgrims were conducted. The Via Dolorosa — the Way of Grief or Way of Suffering— for was probably developed by the Franciscans after they were granted administration of the Christian holy places in Jerusalem in 1342.

The earliest use of the word stations, as applied to the accustomed halting-places along the Via Sacra at Jerusalem, occurs in the narrative of an English pilgrim, William Wey, who visited the Holy Land in the mid-1400s, and described pilgrims following the footsteps of Christ to the place of crucifixion.
Reminiscent of Earlier Times
Prayer Chapels form the Stations at the
Church of St Casimir in Krakow, Poland
During the fifteenth and sixteenth centuries the Franciscans built a series of outdoor shrines in Europe to duplicate their counterparts in the Holy Land. The number of stations varied between eleven and thirty. In 1686, in answer to their petition, Pope Innocent XI granted to the Franciscans the right to erect stations within their churches. In 1731, Pope Clement XII extended the right of all churches to have the stations, provided that a Franciscan father erected them with the consent of the local bishop. At the same time the number was fixed at fourteen. In 1857, the bishops of England were allowed to erect the stations by themselves, without the intervention of a Franciscan priest, and in 1862 this right was extended to bishops throughout the church.

The object of the Stations is to help the faithful to make a mini-pilgrimage in spirit, through meditating upon the chief scenes of Christ's sufferings and death. It has become one of the most popular devotions for Roman Catholics, as well as a Good Friday feature in the worship and devotion of other Christian denominations.
Lighted and Inset Along a Wall at the
Church of St. Patrick, Racine, WI.
Today, the Stations themselves are usually a series of 14 pictures or sculptures depicting the events of Christ’s trial, crucifixion and burial. In order, they are: Jesus is condemned to death,  Jesus is given his cross, Jesus falls the first time, Jesus meets His Mother, Simon of Cyrene carries the cross, Veronica wipes the face of Jesus, Jesus falls the second time, Jesus meets the daughters of Jerusalem, Jesus falls the third time, Jesus is stripped of His garments, Jesus is nailed to the cross, Jesus dies on the cross, Jesus' body is removed from the cross, and Jesus is laid in the tomb.

A group called Cross Ministries has constructed the Stations using life-sized statues set in a circle in a field alongside Interstate 40 in Groom, Texas. The statues form a circular path around a huge cross nineteen stories tall. They also have a representation of the Last Supper among others. Here is a sampling:
Jesus is Condemned to Death

Simon of Cyrene Helps Carry the Cross

Jesus is Nailed to the Cross
Jesus is Removed from the Cross and Placed in His Mother's Arms
If you would like to see the entire set, I encourage you to visit Cross Ministries.

Until next time, we wish you Peace and Blessings.

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