Universal Stations of the Cross from Johannesburg

Veronica wipes the face of Jesus - Joseph Capelle

Veronica wipes the face of Jesus - Joseph Capelle

As Lent approaches, Holy Trinity Church in Johannesburg has produced a striking booklet of the Stations of the Cross: In the Footsteps of Jesus Today (available from Jesuit Missions in London @ £5/copy).

The images are by South African artist Joseph Capelle: the original 15 paintings have replaced the former Stations at Holy Trinity, which crumbled when the maintenance team attempted to restore them. 'The old Stations of the Cross were very Euro-centric,' says parish priest, Fr Russell Pollitt SJ, who has composed a series of reflections to accompany each of the Stations. 'The new ones were installed once the Church was renovated.  They not only reflect the context of Holy Trinity, but also capture something of the complexities of the modern world.'

The Stations also reflect the art, culture and spirituality of Africa. 'The paintings are universal in their depiction of humanity,' Russell explains. 'But they are influenced by the African context which is subtly suggested in a number of ways, most especially in the patterns on the cloth of the garments.' This is illustrated in the image on the left—Veronica wipes the face of Jesus—in which Veronica is depicted with a beautifully coloured head scarf and beaded bodice.

In addition to the artistic representation of Jesus' passion, death and resurrection, the series of reflections by Russell Pollitt address such human emotions are fear and power, feeling overcome by the burdens of life, hope and responding to tragedies—both in our own lives and universally.

'The Stations are 'iconic',' he says, 'in the sense that they tell a story—my story, your story, our story … They will be timeless in their ability to capture the very seasons of the human heart, the human experience and the world.'

South Africa is part of the British Province of the Society of Jesus (Jesuits).  To order a copy of In the Footsteps of Jesus Today in the UK, call 020 8946 0466 or write to director@gbjm.org.  They are £5 each.  Or contact CB Publications, PO Box 379, 8000 Cape Town, South Africa.

Source: Jesuit Communications

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