Newspaper article The Record (Bergen County, NJ)

Lenten Devotional

Newspaper article The Record (Bergen County, NJ)

Lenten Devotional

Article excerpt

For centuries, Roman Catholics throughout the world have marked Lent, particularly Good Friday, with prayers and devotions to the Stations of the Cross -- compelling artistic renderings of the final hours in the life of Christ.

In Catholic churches throughout North Jersey, these renderings -- some traditional, some quite modern -- are placed along the perimeter of the main body of the church, or nave, at evenly spaced intervals. The stations may be paintings, sculptures or three- dimensional plaques that depict the crucifying of Christ and the events leading up to it, scenes also referred to as the Passion of Jesus.

Many of these renderings are quite beautiful, and some, like those at St. Joseph Church in West Milford, have been in place for many decades.

St. Joseph congregation actually goes back 250 years, according to the church spokeswoman, Mary Beth Ferriola.

"In 1765, before we had a building, Mass was said in people's homes in this area," Ferriola said. "Our first church building was constructed in 1829. This is our third building, it was constructed in 1909, and the Stations we now have were installed in 1929, to celebrate the 100 years since the first church was erected. They wanted to spruce up the building for the anniversary and put in stained glass windows, a mural of St. Joseph dying, over the altar, and the Stations."

As Christianity spread in the years after Christ's death, pilgrims went to the Holy Land to follow in his footsteps, as a devotion. Eventually, Catholic churches incorporated the Stations into their designs, allowing parish members to replicate the experience.

Traditionally, these scenes are: Jesus being condemned to death; Jesus taking and carrying his cross; his first fall, under the weight of the cross; meeting his mother; receiving help from Simon of Cyrene; having his face wiped by Veronica; falling a second time; interacting with the women of Jerusalem; falling a third time; being stripped of his clothing; being nailed to the cross; being taken from the cross; being laid in his tomb. …

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