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The Stations of the Cross in Jerusalem - Reflection

The 12th Station:
HERE Jesus dies on the Cross


Someone yelled an order and the body, nailed and tied to the cross-beam was hoisted in its place. Pain passed like electric shocks from the pierced wrists to the strained shoulder blades as they pulled him up. There was no careful handling. Just a rough treatment reserved for criminals.

Jesus is now hoisted and they hurry to nail his legs. More hammer blows. More torn flesh. More blood. More pain. It is all happening fast. The soldiers are done. It was just past the third hour (9.00am).

One of the soldiers posted a notice written in Aramaic, Latin and Greek which read "Jesus of Nazareth, King of the Jews" (Jn 19.19). As soon as the notice was affixed to the top of the cross, the elders expressed their vehement protests. They left and went directly to Pilate to ask him to change it. But Pilate stood firm in his decision (Jn 19,20).

His mother and the women, accompanied by John moved forward. They asked to stay near the crucified victim. They did not have any words to say. Their throats were blocked by a heavy pain which rose from their hearts. They stood there in silence as if keeping watch of the sacrifical paschal lamb.

Upon seeing them, Jesus whispered to his mother "Dear woman, here is your son," (Jn 19,26) and to the disciple, "Here is your mother" (Jn 19,27).

Timed passed by slowly. Three hours of agonizing pain had already passed. Dark heavy clouds covered the sun. All around the spur of Calvary seemed to reign an eerie silence. Only the heavy suffocating breathing of the condemned could be heard. Their lungs were slowly giving in, as did their senses.

Jesus said "I am thirsty". (Jn 19,28), and a soldier went running and "offered him wine mixed with myrrh, but he did not take it" (Mk 15,23).

The robbers crucified with him started arguing between themselves about Jesus, and he, looking at one of them, said "I tell you the truth, today you will be with me in paradise" (Lk 23,43 ). Silence on the hill and festive chaos in the city.

And Jesus gathered his breath and screamed aloud the lines of the Psalm "Eloi, Eloi, lama sabachthani ?"--which means, "My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?" (Mt 27,46).

He was praying aloud now. His lungs were making a whistling sound. Pain was all over his face and body. Haematomas were all over his body. The extremities of his fingers and toes had changed color to bluish black. The sky was overcast and darkness fell over the city.

Those under the cross heard him whisper "Father, into your hands I commit my spirit." (Lk 23,46). And after a few moments he almost screamed his last breath out with the words "It is finished" (Jn 19,30). Saying this he breathed his last!

The earth shook and the rocks split. (Mt 27, 51). "When the centurion and those with him who were guarding Jesus saw the earthquake and all that had happened, they were terrified, and exclaimed, "Surely he was the Son of God!" (Mt 27,54). It was the ninth hour (3 pm) when Jesus died on the Cross at Calvary!

A Prayer

Dear Jesus, at this site I tried to hear your last words, your last breath! And during these long hours I heard you pray, pray, pray! Your words were words of dependence on the Father, words of hope in deliverance. Dear Lord, teach me how to pray. Teach me to open my heart to you and to feel the warmth of your love! Teach me to pray with the heart and not with words that come out of my lips like a river. How good it is Lord, that from this site, where you prayed and forgave, where you passed your last hours of pain, I can rise up and say aloud: "Our Father who are in heaven!" Yes Lord I can proclaim this because at this spot you gave up your life for me! Thank you Jesus!

The Site

The altar of the Crucifixion
Tradition places the erection of the cross and the death of Jesus in the eastern part of the nave on the left. A silver disk with a central hole, underneath the Greek Orthodox altar, marks the spot where the Cross stood.
medium sized image(114KB) - large image (264KB) - detail (255KB)

Here Jesus dies on the Cross
The site of the crucifixion has been fixed since Constantine's time when at this site he had erected a wooden cross replaced in 417 by the Emperor Theodosius II with another cross made of gold and precious stones.
medium sized image (68KB) - large image (197KB)

Here Jesus expired
On each side of the altar a black marble disk recalls the memory of the two thieves crucified with Jesus, "one on the right, the other on the left" (Mk 15,27). To the right of the altar an opening in the pavement shows the cleft that an old theological tradition links to the earthquake mentioned in Mathew 27,51.
medium sized image (64KB) ---large image (181KB) ---detail (large) (247KB)

The icon of the Virgin Mary
The dominating figures in this central nave, besides the Crucified Lord, are the silver icons of the Virgin Mary and St. John who stood at the foot of the Cross during those dramatic moments.
medium sized image (88KB) - large image (188KB) - The icon of Saint John(198KB)

© copyright 2001. Reflections, prayers and descriptive text
by John Abela ofm edited by Michael Olteanu
based on research by Albert Storm (SBF - Jerusalem)
Hi-Res pictures prepared by Michael Olteanu
Display pictures prepared by John Abela ofm

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Created / Updated Sunday, January 6, 2002 at 14:06:31 by John Abela ofm
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