A Catholic Monthly Magazine

Lent in Stained Glass

The Sorrowful Mysteries

The Agony in the Garden

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This window from St Mary of the Angels, Wellington [1] shows the scene in its simplest form, with the angels offering Jesus the cup, and the apostles asleep. The window from St Mary’s Cathedral, Sydney, [2] is more complex, and shows Jerusalem and the marauding crowd, baying for Jesus’ blood, in the background. Imagine the Lord’s agony.

The Scourging at the pillar

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Information in the Gospels on the scourging of Jesus is scant. They say only that Pilate ordered Jesus to be taken away and scourged (John 19:1), and that the guards beat him (Luke 22:63). The rest is up to our imaginations, or in this case the imaginations of the glass artists.

I have seen only five windows that feature the scourging. The one in the parish church at Chavagnac, France [3] is the most graphic. The malevolence of those beating Jesus is unmistakeable.

The most detailed is again in St Mary’s Cathedral, Sydney [4]. There are three men beating Jesus, one with a cat-o-nine-tails, and the other two with what look like  clubs made from cane.  Jesus’ scarlet cloak lies on the floor, two angry men look on from the left, and the women in Jesus’ life huddle in the background. It is altogether too graphic.
Imagine the Lord’s agony.

The Crowning with Thorns

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The account in Matthew 27:28-30 of the crowning is quite graphic, and most of the details are captured in these two windows.

The first, from Chavagnac, [5] shows the reed being placed in his right hand, the torturers beating the crown of thorns, and the mockers kneeling in front of him.

The second, from St Joseph’s, Orange, New South Wales, [6] shows the same elements in a different way. Note the addition of the upper figures of the Roman soldier and the malevolent-looking character.

Again, imagine the Lord’s agony.

The Carrying of the Cross

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Two windows I have seen show Jesus carrying His cross surrounded by soldiers, the crowd, the women, and even a boy carrying the “INRI” placard.

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But to my mind the one [7] on the left, part of a window in  the Votive Church, Vienna, is very special, because it shows the agony on Jesus’ face as he carries the awful load. The one above, from St John’s, Darlinghurst, Sydney, [8] is similar, except that the cross itself is probably more realistic.

Can you see the agony?

The Crucifixion

Most of the 50 plus windows of the Crucifixion I have seen feature the Blessed Virgin, Mary (Magdalene?), and John. The most beautiful and complete is the one from St Patrick’s Catholic Cathedral, Armagh, Northern Ireland [9].

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But, to me, the Crucifixion is all about Jesus’ sacrifice. I can’t imagine the agony Jesus went through on the cross. Beaten, whipped, exhausted, hanging from nails, abused, alone. The unusual window from St Margaret’s, Taihape [10] says it all very graphically.

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Can you see the agony?

 


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