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19 Mar 2021

Stations of the Cross Exhibition

As we continue our journey through Lent, The Revd Dr Catriona Laing, Chaplain of St Martha and St Mary’s Anglican Church, Leuven shares this story of art and the Stations of the Cross:

I have been co-curating Stations of the Cross with Professor Aaron Rosen (Professor of Religion & Visual Culture Religion Wesley Theological Seminary, Washington, DC) in different cities around the world for five years. Having visited the exhibition in its first incarnation in London in 2016, I was captivated by the way in which the themes evoked by the stations of the cross evoke so many of the issues of suffering and despair that we experience on an individual or collective scale today. They also speak into many of the fights for social justice in which we are engaged.

Jesus was homeless. Jesus was tortured. Jesus was unfairly condemned. I understand the call of the church to be to make the connections between the message of the Gospel and life as we experience it today. We are called to take the message of God’s love out of our church buildings into the hopeless, forgotten and despairing parts of our communities. Stations of the Cross seeks to do this through art.

As we pray our way along the Stations of the Cross we are invited to stop and reflect on these moments in the story of Jesus’ passion. As a Christian, our exhibition highlights for me how the mystery of the incarnation sits at the heart of the Christian faith as we worship a God who is with us. Through art and reflection, the exhibition transports us to moments of betrayal, abandonment, torture and despair that we might have experienced or may see in the suffering of others. In so doing it reminds the visitor that God has been there, and is there, with us, in these moments. They might even stir us to respond.

I was particularly drawn to an exhibition that took the visitor on a pilgrimage through different parts of the city, inviting us to make the connections between the sacred and secular spaces in our cities and the issues of suffering and social justice evoked by the stations.

Picture copyright: Suspended Canterbury Cathedral

Until this year the exhibition has been a physical experience whereby the visitor followed a map around the city stopping at each of the stations to listen to a podcast reflection, perhaps pray or respond in another way before proceeding to the next station. This year, we have decided to make a virtue of being forced to go online by inviting the visitor on a virtual pilgrimage through Russia, South Korean, Pakistan and the Netherlands, with other stops along the way.

That stations do not provide quick fix solutions to some of the crises we are facing; they are more realistic than that. Instead, they provide space to stop and be in the moment, which is important. Then ultimately, for those of us who use this as part of our Lenten practice, the stations point us to the hope of Easter and the promise that God is not only with us in the moments of despair, God is with us in the redemption and rejoicing that follows.

Bishop David comments:

“The Revd Catriona presents to us a modern-day Stations of the Cross, using art and meditations to highlight contemporary issues of social justice. I commend this most warmly to the faithful of the diocese. In walking and praying these Stations, we walk with Jesus who is among those whose lives are a Via Dolorosa, of sweat, blood and tears.”

For more information you can visit the Exhibition’s website at: https://www.luceartsandreligion.org/global-2021

Picture copyright: Hocking The Egg and MCTS

Further picture credits & copyright:

1. Yola Trubetskoy Bastion (black and white image)

2. Weevers Deventer (split image featured at the top of the page)