Fr. Donald’s Stations of the Cross

 

Very little is available that explains Fr. Donald’s stations. My ultimate hope is to provide photos of the Stations. I have written these few lines on each station to make them more available.

The Stations of the Cross now set up in the St. Joseph Chapel were commissioned for the Archabbey Church and painted by Fr. Donald Walpole, O.S.B. They were raised to the church walls in 1954. However in the renovation of 1968 they were removed and put in storage. Since 1996, they grace the walls of the crypt chapel dedicated to St. Joseph.

From earliest times in the Christian era, the way of the cross, the path Jesus took on the way to Cavalry, has been the object of veneration. Early Christians dreamed of getting to Jerusalem where they could follow in the footsteps of Christ. The stations along the way are where pilgrims stopped to commune with suffering Christ as they passed along His path. The devotion continues to this day in Jerusalem. The number of stations has varied greatly over the years going as high as 37. The number and title of the stations is now universally set at 14.

Because most Christians could never make it to Jerusalem, the practice of setting up stations in local cities and parishes as a devotion began. Just how and where the practice developed is a matter of history, but, today, most Catholic churches throughout the world foster this devotion that helps one enter more fully into the mystery of Christ’s passion, death, and burial.

The set of stations painted on wood can be looked at as a whole. Fr. Donald has used the color of the wood as a basic background. He uses white, black and red as the only other colors. Jesus’ halo and garment are a bright white and appear in all the stations. He uses the red as a device to frame the images. The swath of red in each station focuses one’s eye on the figure of Christ and one’s heart on the suffering of Christ all along the way of the cross.

The Latin texts provide a distinctive flavor, and are integrated into the framing of the scenes. For the most part they are quotations from the Scriptures, especially the Psalms.



First Station: Jesus is condemned to death.



Jesus stands with great composure facing out and not toward the tribunal. Pilate sits, with his official staff with the letters SPQR (Senatus Populorumque Romanorum—Senate of the Roman People) to pass judgment. Jesus’ brilliant white garment emphasizes his innocence. Jesus and Pilate are not facing one another. Each, with his own role to play, seems lost in a private world.

Sanguis eius super nos et super filios nostros. Mt. 27:26 (“Let His blood be on us and on our children.”) These are the words of the people in dialogue with Pilate who washes his hands and releases Jesus to the soldiers for crucifixion.

Volo (“I will,” or “I accept,” or “I am ready.”) The sentiment echoes the response of many Old Testament saints. They frequently responded to God’s call with a simple: “Here I am, Lord.” Jesus embraces his fate as being the will of God.l.

Fiat (“Let it be done.”) Another word to convey the complete acceptance of Jesus of the unjust judgment of Pilate. The Fiat echoes Mary’s fiat to the Archangel, Gabriel. (“Here am I,” said Mary; “I am the Lord’s servant; as you have spoken, so be it.” Lk. 1:38).



Second station: Jesus receives the cross.



Jesus takes up the cross with eyes heavenward, once more expressing His acceptance. The two Latin phrases build on that thought.

Ecce venio. Ps. 39: 7-8 (“You do not ask for sacrifice and victim. Instead here am I,” or Heb.10:7. Then I said, “Here am I: as it is written of me in the scroll, I have come, O God, to do thy will.”)

Non timebit cor meum Ps. 26:3 (“Though an army encamp against me, my heart would not fear”). This shows his fortitude in the face of things that are sure to come.

As the Christian reflects on the anguish of Christ in His journey, he/she is bolstered to imitate Christ’s openness to God’s will by bearing with patience the burdens of the day.



Third station : Jesus falls the first time.



The falls of Jesus are not documented in Scripture, but are reasonable given His weakened condition and the enormity of the burden. The Falls lead the devout Christian to compassion. They provide consolation when life’s burdens seem to overwhelm.

Curvatus sum usque in finem. Ps. 37:7 (“I am bowed and brought to my knees. I go mourning all the daylong.”)



Fourth Station: Jesus meets his Blessed Mother.



Fittingly the Blessed Mother appears along the way. One can only imagine the depth of the pain each would have suffered at this encounter.

In tua se clausit viscera. (In your womb He has hidden Himself.) Mary was humbly aware of her role in the plan of salvation. Nothing could have possibly prepared her for such a moment.



Fifth Station: Simon of Cyrene helps with the cross.



Just when it appeared that Jesus could not go on, Simon of Cyrene is recruited to help. We may never know the ways we have been called upon to help bear another’s cross. “As they led him away to execution they seized upon a man called Simon, from Cyrene, on his way in from the country, put the cross on his back, and made him walk behind Jesus carrying it.” Lk. 23:26.

Quis stabit mecum. Ps. 93:16(“Who will stand with me?”) It takes faith and devotion to stand up and be counted in the various challenges of our spiritual life. Especially fruitful is when we provide support physically or spiritually to our brother or sister.



Sixth Station: Veronica wipes the face of Jesus.



The tradition here is that a pious lady, struck by the sweat and blood stained face of Jesus, steps forward fearlessly to bring Him comfort. The legend is that the cloth she used to relieve Him, ever after bore the image of Jesus’ face in its fibers.

Faciem tuam,Domine, requiram. Ps. 26.8 (Of you my heart has spoken: “Seek His face.”). The face of God holds great fascination for the psalmists and people in other books of the Bible. “Hide not your face.” “Lord, it is your face I seek.” Veronica is a model for all of us to reach out in compassion to those in need. The face we serve may be the face of God.



Seventh Station Jesus Falls the second time.



In some manuals and in Jerusalem itself there were seven places that commemorated where Jesus fell along the way to the cross.

Lumbi mei impleti sunt illusionibus. Ps. 37:8 (“All my frame burns with fever; all l my body is sick.”)



Eight Station: Jesus meets the women of Jerusalem.


Copyright © 2003 Saint Meinrad Archabbey