By Tia Lynn Ivey
Billions of Christians around the globe celebrated the most sacred holiday of the faith last week to commemorate their belief in the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ more than 2,000 years ago.
St. James Catholic Church put on a special Good Friday event to bring Christ’s journey to the cross to life–literally. The church, joined by several other local church denominations in town, presented the “Living Stations of the Cross” through downtown, recreating the end of Jesus’ life.
Traditionally, the Stations of the Cross is represented in churches with 14 paintings or carved images depicting Jesus’s journey to the cross. Parishioners utilize the images in a devotional exercise to meditate and reflect on the Gospel and Christ’s sacrifice of his life. The scenes show Jesus condemned to death, Jesus carrying the cross, Jesus falling three separate times, Jesus meeting his mother, Mary, Simon aiding Jesus with the cross, Veronica wiping the blood from Jesus’ face, Jesus falling again, women of Jerusalem trying to comfort Jesus, Jesus being stripped of his clothes, Jesus being nailed to the cross, Jesus dying on the cross, Jesus taken down from the cross and finally, Jesus being placed in the tomb.
This year, St. James decided to act out the stations of the cross along Washington Street ending at the courthouse to give the public the opportunity to experience this solemn tradition. Members from Beacon Heights Church, the First United Methodist Church of Madison, and Episcopal Church of the Advent joined St James Catholic Church for the Living Stations of the Cross reenactment.
“This is a very significant event for the Catholic community,” said Lizy Tenorio, a member of St. James Catholic Church.
“The Station of the Cross, or Way of Sorrow or Via Crucis, is a remembrance of Jesus Christ on the away of his crucifixion,” said Gorete Bir, a church member. “They involve Jesus enduring suffering, insults, moments of support, and relay the intense sacrifice that we believe Jesus undertook for human salvation. The object of the stations is to help us Catholics and other Christian faithfuls to make a spiritual pilgrimage though contemplation of the Passion of Christ and God’s love for us.”
Volunteers from each of the churches worked together to perform the Stations of the Cross. Levi Gallagher, from the Episcopalian Church, played Jesus. Sara Gallagher played Mary the Mother of Jesus, and felt the part gave her a greater insight in her own faith.
“It was a wonderful experience and it really drew me closer and gave me an even greater respect for the Lord’s Passion,” said Sara Gallagher.
Sean Gallagher played Pontius Pilate, the Roman official infamously washed his hands of the matter, enabling the crucifixion of Christ to proceed.
“I enjoyed having a lot of different age groups and a good cross section of the congregation being represented,” said Sean Gallgher. “I feel the church should be able to be visible. This was a way to live our faith visibly, where the whole community is represented.I am glad our little St. James is sharing our gospel with the community. Even our Police escorts mentioned how powerful our event was for them and passerbyers.”
Children participated in Living Stations of the Cross, too.
Annika Hanson, 9, played the part of Veronica, who compassionately wipes the face of Jesus as he’s carrying his cross to be crucified.
“The scenes of Jesus being crucified, stabbed, and buried seemed really real!” said Annika Hanson. Gus Hanson, 10, played one of the soldiers.
St. James Catholic Church is led by Father Randall Maddox. The church was established in Madison in 1967. To find out more information about St. James Catholic Church, located at 562 Vine Street, visit: www.sjccmadison.org.