The Way of the Cross, or the Stations of the Cross is a series of artistic representations of the events over Easter. Usually, each series of 14(ish) images begins with the arrest of Jesus or the Condemning of Death and culminating in the burial of Jesus (occasionally you’ll find the resurrection in the series but that’s rare).
Many churches will use a series of stations in their liturgy on Good Friday, each station set around prayers, meditation and action while many others will use them daily throughout Lent to assist with their meditations and reflections on the season, readjusting people’s rhythms to journey with Jesus through the week.
I’ve been collecting Stations of the Cross images and resources for this year’s Easter and Lent workshops, one of which I ran over the weekend. The space I set up with the sets displays several sets of images/stations displayed along the walls, some of which I include a printed reflection from a book, or from the artist’s reflection on the stations.
I give the participants some time to explore the various stations, read through some of the reflections, spend time with the images and reflect on their reactions to the different depictions around them. I generally ask them to find one particular image that draws them in and one series that they are drawn to.
If I have time I’ll provide some pens, paper, pencils and invite people to spend some time creating their own image, or series of images/designs for their own Stations of the Cross.
I’m still in awe of the crew at CitySide in NZ who create an annual art display from local artists who are invited to participate in creating a local Stations of the Cross experience.
Stations of the Cross at the Colosseum
The Vatican have a number of liturgies and meditations online from previous Way of the Cross celebrations, you can check them all out here. The site usually includes the images used in the stations for the year as well as a liturgy and meditation.
I’ve linked a couple of my favourite sets of images from their liturgies and celebrations.
Link: Stations of the Cross 2009 (pdf) (Artist: Sister Marie Claire Naidu)
Link: Stations of the Cross 2009 (Artist: Sister Marie Claire Naidu)
Stations of the Cross – Chris Gollon
In 2000, Chris Gollon was commissioned by the Church of England to paint fourteen Stations of the Cross for the Church of St John on Bethnal Green. This particular series is one of my favourites, but it’s probably the book written by Sara Maitland full of reflections on each image that makes it so special. Many people find this series a bit dark, but if one were to read the reflections by Sara Maitland alongside each image you’ll find a new insight into each of the images, new beauty, new wonder.
I was particularly drawn to the story of the Hammer Man.
Stations of the Cross – Chris Woods
Chris Woods was commissioned in 1994 by a parishioner to paint the Stations of the Cross for St. David’s Anglican Church in Vancouver, BC.
Woods took on the challenge to place this series in a contemporary setting. The figures enact the trials of Christ on his march to the crucifixion in downtown Vancouver. Using his friends and family as models, Woods reinvented the images of Christ’s passion for a modern audience.
While I find these images a bit too clean for my own liking they do ask the question of how one might place the images in a local setting, and, who you would place in the role of Jesus, Simon, The Women, Peter…
Stations of the Cross – Jan Morovic
Jan created this beautiful set of paintings depicting the Way of the Cross using the ProCreate app on the iPad. He writes that they were triggered by a desire to deepen his understanding of and closeness to Jesus.
I love the abstract nature of the art and think it’s one of the more simple and beautiful expressions of the Way of the Cross created (at least on the iPad). It also goes to show that you can create your own images with your own resources in your own time, I wonder if this will encourage others to look at doing the same.
The images can be purchased as a pdf from Magcloud or as an iPad book on iTunes.
iPad App: Stations of the Cross – Jan Morovic
Stations of the Cross – Kathrin Burleson
Kathrin’s watercolours are beautiful, this series she has titled “The Soul’s Journey – a Mystical Approach to the Stations of the Cross” and gives a different artistic expression to the wonder of the story.
“One of the most challenging aspects of walking the Way of the Cross is that we know from the outset that it is not going to be easy. However, we are also fortunate to know the end of the story, that love triumphs and the world is changed forever. As we practice and enter this Way, we grow in the certainty that we are never forsaken and never alone, regardless of how dark the night.”
These images are much more colourful and less dark than many of the series I’ve listed here, Kathrin also includes individual guided reflections for each image on her website.
John Paul II’s Biblical Way of the Cross - Michael D O’Brien
This series of images by Michael O’Brien is available online, as a booklet and as a iPad app with meditations and liturgy by Amy Welborn and Michael Dubruiel making them perfect for use in a congregational setting. The 14 images aren’t complex but remain beautiful and layered, the use of colour and texture allowing the viewer to enter into the image from a variety of perspectives.
This ” Biblical Way of the Cross” was an introduction of Pope John Paul 2 in 1991 that followed the ancient practice of following the journey from Gethsemane through to the burial (many of the newer versions had become less inclusive missing out on the garden and arrest).
Stations of the Cross – Father Angelbert M. Vang – Kenya
Father Angelbert M. Vang SJ from Yaoude, Cameroon was a well-known historian, poet, musician and designer. He wrote a history of Cameroon and promoted African identity. He was deeply interested in inculturation,the process of integrating Christian faith and the culture of the believing people.
Vang was asked to design stations for the chapel Hekima College, in Nairobi, Kenya, shortly after the chapel was built in 1984-85 at the very beginning of the school for professional theological studies sponsored by the Jesuits of Africa.
This series is particularly remarkable, I just wish I could source a high resolution version.
Stations of the Cross – Adolfo Perez Esquivel – Argentina
This is a great collection of images by Adolfo Perez Esquivel and commentary by Alastair McIntosh exploring the stations and the question “What is Liberation Theology?”
The pdf also contains a link to the images and commentary as a powerpoint display
Link: Stations of the Cross – Adolfo Perez Esquivel (pdf)
Stations of the Cross – Mansour Mouasher
This is a series of stamps, a collection held by Mansour Mouasher.
Stations of the Cross – Gwyneth Leech
The paintings were commissioned by Saint Paul’s in March 2004, from New York City artist Gwyneth Leech. “I was asked to combine the traditional stations iconography with elements of the world we live in. This brief eventually led to my vision of Christ as a prisoner of war, and as a hostage tortured by insurgents. The crowds are refugees. The people weeping at the foot of the cross are grieving Iraqis and Americans who have lost family members to bombs and to violence”.