The Scriptural Stations of the Cross

Today is the bad day we call Good, recalling that “good” really means “holy,” and the day’s goodness is in Christ’s completed yet ongoing mission: our salvation. There can be no better remembrance of this terrible, blessed day than the Scriptural Stations of the Cross, which we present accompanied by watercolor paintings by French artist James J. Tissot (1836-1902).

The Brooklyn Museum describes the impetus of Tissot’s The Life of Our Lord Jesus Christ, which the museum acquired in full in 1900:

Following a successful career painting London society, Tissot returned to Paris in 1882 to reestablish his reputation in his homeland, revisiting familiar fashionable terrain with a series of fifteen works called The Woman of Paris. While sketching for one of his subjects at the Church of Saint-Sulpice, however, he suddenly experienced a religious vision during the service: a bloodied but luminous Christ comforting the tattered poor in the rubble of a devastated building. . . . Tissot rededicated himself to the Catholicism of his youth and embarked on a ten-year project to illustrate the New Testament.

Tissot made two extended trips to the Holy Land. About his first visit in 1886, he wrote: “As soon as I arrived . . . I saw that there was no fear of my losing any of my illusions.” What he saw gave him “the direct impression of antiquity.” He described his project as “pencil reporting from the life of Christ.”

1.  Jesus in the Garden of Gethsemane

He took Peter and the two sons of Zebedee along with him, and he began to be sorrowful and troubled. Then he said to them, “My soul is overwhelmed with sorrow to the point of death. Stay here and keep watch with me.” Going a little farther, he fell with his face to the ground and prayed, “My Father, if it is possible, may this cup be taken from me. Yet not as I will, but as you will.” (Matthew 26:37-39)

The Grotto of the Agony

2.  Jesus, betrayed by Judas, is arrested

Now the betrayer had arranged a signal with them: “The one I kiss is the man; arrest him and lead him away under guard.” Going at once to Jesus, Judas said, “Rabbi!” and kissed him. (Mark 14: 44-45)

The Kiss of Judas

3.  Jesus is condemned by the Sanhedrin

“If you are the Messiah,” they said, “tell us.” Jesus answered, “If I tell you, you will not believe me, and if I asked you, you would not answer.” (Luke 22: 67-68)

The Torn Cloak

4.  Jesus is Denied by Peter

After a little while, those standing there went up to Peter and said, “Surely you are one of them; your accent gives you away.” Then he began to call down curses, and he swore to them, “I don’t know the man!” Immediately a rooster crowed. (Matthew 26: 73-74)

The Third Denial of Peter. Jesus’ Look of Reproach

5.  Jesus is Judged by Pilate

But with loud shouts they insistently demanded that he be crucified, and their shouts prevailed. So, Pilate decided to grant their demand. He released the man who had been thrown into prison for insurrection and murder, the one they asked for, and surrendered Jesus to their will. (Luke 23: 23-25)

Bird’s-Eye View of the Forum: Jesus Hears His Death Sentence

6.  Jesus is Scourged and Crowned with Thorns

The soldiers twisted together a crown of thorns and put it on his head. They clothed him in a purple robe and went up to him again and again, saying, “Hail, king of the Jews!” And they slapped him in the face. (John 19: 2-3)

Jesus Is Crowned with Thorns

7.  Jesus Bears the Cross

Carrying his own cross, he went out to the place of the Skull, which in Aramaic is called Golgotha. (John 19:17)

Jesus Bearing His Cross

8.  Jesus is Helped by Simon the Cyrenian to Carry the Cross

As they were going out, they met a man from Cyrene, named Simon, and they forced him to carry the cross. (Matthew 27:32)

Simon the Cyrenian Compelled to Carry the Cross with Jesus

9.  Jesus Meets the Women of Jerusalem

A large number of people followed him, including women who mourned and wailed for him. Jesus turned and said to them, “Daughters of Jerusalem, do not weep for me; weep for yourselves and for your children. (Luke 23: 27-28)

The Daughters of Jerusalem

10.  Jesus is Crucified

When they came to the place called the Skull, they crucified him there, along with the criminals—one on his right, the other on his left. (Luke: 23:33)

What Our Lord Saw from the Cross

11.  Jesus Promises His Kingdom to the Good Thief

Then he said, “Jesus, remember me when you come into your kingdom.” Jesus answered him, “Truly I tell you, today you will be with me in paradise.” (Luke 23: 42-43)

The Pardon of the Good Thief

12.  Jesus Speaks to His Mother and the Disciple

When Jesus saw his mother there, and the disciple whom he loved standing nearby, he said to her, “Woman, here is your son,” and to the disciple, “Here is your mother.” From that time on, this disciple took her into his home. (John 19: 26-27)

Woman, Behold Thy Son

13.  Jesus Dies on the Cross

When he had received the drink, Jesus said, “It is finished.” With that, he bowed his head and gave up his spirit. (John 19:30)

Consummatum Est

14.  Jesus is Placed in the Tomb

Joseph took the body, wrapped it in a clean linen cloth, and placed it in his own new tomb that he had cut out of the rock. He rolled a big stone in front of the entrance to the tomb and went away. (Matthew 27: 59-60)

Jesus Entombed


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