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Chapel Hosts Stations of the Cross
March 12, 2008

In the week leading up to Easter, Calvin College will be hosting Stations of the Cross, a liturgical depiction of the journey Jesus took to his crucifixion, carrying the instrument of his own death. The event, hosted March 17–20 in the main sanctuary of the Calvin chapel, is sponsored by the college’s Office of Christian Formation.

"The purpose of Stations of the Cross is to enhance our understanding of Christ’s suffering through artistic expression, to help us to become more intentionally reflective, and to help prepare participants for the drama and celebration of Christ’s resurrection,” said Calvin interim chaplain Andy De Jong.

The Calvin Stations of the Cross, like the traditional Catholic practice that inspired it, uses the events of Jesus’ final hours as stopping places on a journey of prayer and spiritual reflection. Calvin pilgrims—students, faculty and staff—are encouraged to travel through the stations, pausing at each to both reflect and interact.

The Calvin version will feature eight stations: The Garden; Jesus on Trial; Peter’s Denial; Jesus Flogged; Jesus Carries Cross; Jesus Crucified; Jesus Dies; Jesus in the Tomb and Reflection Space. There are 14 stations in a traditional Catholic Stations of the Cross.

“All of the stations we are doing are biblically based,” said De Jong in explanation of why the Calvin event omits stations such as Veronica wiping the face of Jesus with her veil, which is based in Catholic legend.

The Calvin stations depart from Catholic tradition in other ways. Each will be a three-dimensional and symbolic portrayal of a stage of Jesus’ journey to Golgotha, rather than a literal depiction of the event. “The traditional stages show Jesus actually carrying the cross,” De Jong elucidated. “Our intent is to create a kind of artistic interpretation that’s really meant to bring creative nuance to that event.”

To achieve these nuanced portrayals, the Office of Christian Formation partnered with faculty and staff from other Calvin departments: physical plant; the art department; Broene Center, the Mosaic Floor, and the student life division. “They were given some rough parameters, but it was up to them to design the station,” said De Jong.

Each station will exhibit the biblical text on which it was based, a written reflection and suggestions for interacting with the exhibit—nailing pieces of a broken urn to a cross made of barn wood in the crucifixion station, for example. The overall effect of the installation will be helped by dim lighting, music and candles, he added.

The Stations of the Cross will be open from 10 a.m. through 10 p.m., Monday and Tuesday, March 17 and 18, from 10 a.m. through 6 p.m., Wednesday, March 19 and 8 a.m. through 12 p.m., Thursday, March 20. Visitors are encouraged to register in the chapel narthex for a time to tour the installation.

”It’s a way to help us, as a faith community, to slow down and devote ourselves to reflection and living in Christ’s journey to the cross,” said De Jong, who imported the Stations of the Cross to Calvin from his former Grand Haven pastorate. He’s looking forward to exploring the Calvin stations. “I’ll probably walk through it a couple of times,” he said.

For more information, visit:

~written by Calvin senior writer Myrna Anderson

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