Stations of the Cross
These Icons can be found within the cloister area of the Church. There are 14 of them and they represent the story of Jesus, his passion, death and resurrection.
From the earliest days, followers of Jesus told the story of his passion, death and resurrection. When pilgrims came to see Jerusalem, they were anxious to see the sites where Jesus was. These sites became important holy connections with Jesus. Eventually, following in the footsteps of the Lord, along the way of the cross, became a part of the pilgrimage to visit. The stations, as we know them today, came about when it was no longer easy or even possibly to visit the holy sites. In the 1500's, villages all over Europe started creating 'replicas' of the way of the cross, with small shrines commemorating the places along the route in Jerusalem. These shrines became the set of 14 stations, and were placed in almost every Church in the world.
Station No 1 - Jesus is condemned to die
Jesus stands in the most human of places. He has already experienced profound solidarity with so many on this earth, by being beaten and tortured. Now he is wrongfully condemned to punishment of death. His commitment to entering our lives completely begins his final steps. He has said 'yes' to God and placed his life in God's hands. We follow him in this final surrender, and contemplate with reverence each place along the way, as he is broken and given for us.
Station No 2 - Jesus carries his cross
Jesus is made to carry the cross on which he will die. It represents the weight of all our crosses. What he must have felt as he first took it upon his shoulders! With each step he enters more deeply into our human experience. He walks in the path of human misery and suffering, and experiences its crushing weight.
Station No 3 - Jesus falls the first time
The weight is unbearable. Jesus falls under it. How could he enter our lives completely without surrendering to the crushing weight of the life of so many on this earth! He lays on the ground and knows the experience of weakness beneath unfair burdens. He feels the powerlessness of wondering if he will ever be able to continue. He is pulled up and made to continue.
Station No 4 - Jesus meets his mother
Jesus' path takes him to a powerful source of his strength to continue. All his life, his mother had taught him the meaning of the words, "Behold, the handmaid of the Lord". Now they look into each other's eyes. How pierced-through her heart must be! How pained he must be to see her tears! Now, her grace-filled smile blesses his mission and stirs his heart to its depth. Love and trust in God bind them together.
Station No 5 - Simon helps Jesus carry his cross
Jesus even experiences our struggle to receive help. He is made to experience the poverty of not being able to carry his burden alone. He enters into the experience of all who must depend upon others to survive. He is deprived of the satisfaction of carrying this burden on his own.
Station No 6 - Veronica wipes Jesus' face
Jesus' journey is at times brutal. He has entered into the terrible experiences of rejection and injustice. He has been whipped and beaten. His face shows the signs of his solidarity with all who have ever suffered injustice and vile, abusive treatment. He encounters a compassionate, loving disciple who wipes the vulgar spit and mocking blood from his face. On her veil, she discovers the image of his face - his gift to her. And for us to contemplate forever.
Station No 7 - Jesus falls the second time
Even with help, Jesus stumbles and falls to the ground. In deep exhaustion he stares at the earth beneath him. "Remember, you are dust and to dust you will return". He has seen death before. Now he can feel the profound weakness of disability and disease and ageing itself, there on his knees, under the weight of his cross.
Station No 8 - Jesus meets the women of Jerusalem
The women of Jerusalem, and their children, come out to comfort and thank him. They had seen his compassion and welcomed his words of healing and freedom. He had broken all kinds of social and religious conventions to connect with them. Now they are here to support him. He feels their grief. He suffers, knowing he can't remain to help them more in this life. He knows the mystery of facing the separation of death.
Station No 9 - Jesus falls the third time
This last fall is devastating. Jesus can barely proceed to the end. Summoning all this remaining strength, supported by his inner trust in God, Jesus collapses under the weight of the cross. His executioners look at him as a broken man, pathetic yet paying a price he deserves. They help him up so he can make it up the hill of crucifixion.
Station No 10 - Jesus is stripped
Part of the indignity is to be crucified naked. Jesus is completely stripped of any pride. The wounds on his back are torn open again. He experiences the ultimate vulnerability of the defenceless. No shield or security protects him. As they stare at him, his eyes turn to heaven.
Station No 11 - Jesus is nailed to the cross
Huge nails are hammered through his hands and feet to fix him on the cross. He is bleeding much more seriously now. As the cross is lifted up, the weight of his life hangs on those nails. Every time he struggles to pull himself up to breathe, his ability to cling to life slips away.
Station No 12 - Jesus dies on the cross
Between two criminals, a mocking title above his head, with only Mary and John and Mary Magdalene to support him, Jesus surrenders his last breath: "Into your hands I commend my spirit".
Station No 13 - Jesus is taken down from the cross
What tender mourning! Jesus' lifeless body lies in his mother's arms. He has truly died. A profound sacrifice, complete.
Station No 14 - Jesus is laid in the tomb
They take the body of Jesus to its resting place. The huge stone over the tomb is the final sign of the permanence of death. In this final act of surrender, who would have imagined this tomb would soon be empty or that Jesus would show himself alive to his disciples, or that they would recognise him in the breaking of bread? Oh, that our hearts might burn within us, as we realise how he had to suffer and die, for us, so as to enter into his glory.