THE STATIONS OF THE CROSS In the form of prayer known as the Stations of the Cross we have a way in which we can focus our prayer on the path Jesus must have taken from his condemnation by Pontius Pilate to his death and subsequent burial. Fourteen particular moments or incidents or “stations” on the route are selected. Some of them are known to us from the Gospels, for instance, when Jesus meets the women of Jerusalem (Luke 23:27-31), whilst some come to us from the practice of the first Christian pilgrims to the Holy Land and traditional accounts of the way to the cross., for instance, when Jesus meets with Veronica. The Stations can be used either for personal private prayer or as a corporate act of prayer : “a church service”. On some occasions there may be singing. Sometimes servers may be asked to add the use of a cross and candles to the service. It is a very adaptable form of prayer and worship. And, if wished, the prayer can focus on intercession or on penitence or on meditation, or on some other aspect of our relationship with God. The origin of the Stations probably dates back to early pilgrim practice (from at least the 380’s, fairly soon after the end of the Roman persecutions, Christian pilgrims have been going to the Holy Land) of following the supposed route from Pilate’s house to Calvary. When they got home, perhaps they tried to reproduce a similar form of prayer and devotion. And then in the late Middle Ages, not least because pilgrimage to the Holy Land had become practically impossible, it was popularised, especially by the Franciscans.
At each station we pause for a time and reflect. It has become customary for sets of Stations to be put up for permanent display in churches, with the incidents portrayed, perhaps in stained and painted glass, or otherwise in sculpture, or, as in these illustrations, in painting. In Saint Peter’s Church in Swinton currently the Stations are made as a public act of prayer and worship each month through the year (on the second Friday of the month at 7.30pm) and then each week during the season of Lent, as well as at other times. We are fortunate to have these paintings by Lynn Howarth as our Stations. In past months I have on a number of occasions let people know in advance what the theme of my conduct of the Stations was to be – one month I used texts from Saint Paul for the meditations whilst in Advent I used texts from the Old Testament Christians have traditionally read as prophetic of the passion, death and burial of Jesus. One month I focused on the particular details of the way in which Lynn has depicted the Stations and I found it a most valuable experience and I hope others may have been both interested by it and found it useful. I hope to do this again before too long, and meanwhile this booklet will help us to appreciate Lynn’s depictions even when we are not in Saint Peter’s. Fr Jeremy Sheehy
The Stations of the Cross The Church of Saint Peter, Apostle and Martyr Presented by The Parish of Swinton and Pendlebury
Saint Peter’s Stations of the Cross Some eleven years ago, Fr. Martyn Griffiths asked Lynn if she would paint a set of fourteen Stations of the Cross as a way of celebrating the forth coming Millennium. This request was accepted by Lynn as she saw it as a way to combine her love of art with her love for the Christian faith and to try to use art as a medium to inspire and influence all who would care to look at the paintings whilst in church. The paintings took almost three years to complete between the years 1998 and 2001. During this period the parish had to come to terms with the sad loss of Bert Howarth who by then was Church Warden Emeritus having previously been church warden from 1988 to 1998. Many of the congregation began to ask if this collection of fourteen paintings could be dedicated to the memory of Bert who was Lynn’s father in law. And so it was that the paintings were finally finished and dedicated to Bert during the 2001 Lent celebrations. This set of prints is part of a fund raising initiative for the Parish of St. Peter’s Church, Swinton.