Posts Tagged ‘crucifixion’

Easter paintings in Farnham Parish Church

March 30, 2013
carrying the cross

carrying the cross

taken down from the cross

taken down from the cross

I came across these painting last week, but the church was too dark to see them properly.

Today it was much lighter.

They were not originals, which I would love to see. There was no information on them, or if there was, I did not see any.

I suspect they are Stations of the Cross, but if so I only saw eleven and there should be twelve, but I may have missed one.

Note: There are twelve, one is of the Last Supper.

I have always been impressed by Stations of the Cross in churches, as in each church, they are different.

Today there was a large wooden cross, which is not usually in the church. I assume it appeared yesterday, Good Friday.

Stations of the cross in Lincoln Cathedral

February 7, 2013

—- more soon —–

The Celebration of the Lord’s Passion

April 22, 2011
Crucifixion - Carl Bloch

Crucifixion - Carl Bloch

It was Good Friday. I was in Guildford and it was one of those very rare occasions when Holy Trinity is open. Therefore I popped in.

On the door was a notice asking for quiet as Easter Meditation. I walked in trying to be quiet, such was my level of concentration that I smashed my knee on one of the wooden seats and created a racket.

I found myself at The Celebration of the Lord’s Passion. It was a very moving service and sadly I missed the first five minutes. I missed the silent procession.

Part-way through we were all asked to come forward, light a candle and place it at the foot of the cross.

My thoughts strayed to Ash Wednesday en La Iglesia de Nuestra Señora de la Peña de Francia en Puerto de la Cruz en Tenerife. Then I looked through the open door into the sunlit street outside. Today I was able to do the same, the sunlit street outside, opposite was Abbot’s Hospital, founded by George Abbot, one of the translators of the King James Bible.

My thoughts strayed to the last words of Jesus on the cross, I thirst.

He was offered sour wine. Vinegar can be sour wine, but it does not follow that sour wine is vinegar. Too often I must admit I have been offered sour wine by people who buy cheap plonk.

The gesture by the soldiers is often seen as the last insult, but was it, was it not an act of kindness? To parched lips, even sour wine would have been a blessing. Canon Stephen Cottrell in ‘I Thirst’, a meditation on Easter, suggests what was offered was posca, a mix of beaten eggs, wine, vinegar and water, an opiate to dull the pain.

John provides us with a lot of details, which gives an air of authenticity, or was it rather to fulfill what had been foretold in Scripture?

John appears to have got his dates in a muddle. He says this was the start of Passover, whereas the other gospel writers place the Last Supper as taking place at Passover. And by tradition we assume they are one and the same otherwise a lot of the symbolism is lost.

I asked Canon Robert Cotton about this anomaly. One possible explanation is they were using different calenders and this may explain the problem. Giving the matter some thought I decided this does not resolve the problem. If it was a discrepancy on dates, then yes, but Passover is a very important fixture in the Jewish Calender. No writer at the time would be confused as to when an event took place in relationship to Passover irrespective of the actual calender date.

I humbly offer a different explanation. By putting the Crucifixion at the start of Passover, John very cleverly has Jesus dying on the cross at just the moment the sacrificial lamb is slaughtered. This does of course then raise the problem of Jesus alluding to his own death at Passover if it has not yet happened.

It is a conundrum.

Top story in The starleigh_grass Daily (Saturday 23 April 2011).

‘I Thirst’
Holy Week
The First Easter Week Musing
Quema de Palmitos
Ash Wednesday
Passover supper
Maundy Thursday
The Cross
Crucifixion or Corpus Hypercubus
Christ of Saint John of the Cross

Crucifixion or Corpus Hypercubus

April 22, 2011
Crucifixion - Salvador Dali

Crucifixion - Salvador Dali

The Nazarene was not weak! He was strong and is strong! But the people refuse to heed the true meaning of strength … He lived as a leader: He was crucified as a crusader; He died with a heroism that frightened His killers and tormentors. Jesus was not a bird with broken wings; He was a raging tempest who broke all crooked wings. — Kahlil Gibran

Christ crucified on a hypercube, using cubes as nails. Gala, Dalí’s wife, is the figure in the bottom left, who stands looking up to the crucified Jesus. The scene is depicted in front of the bay of Port Lligat

What Salvador Dali has cleverly done is shown Christ crossing into another dimension, crossing the transition zone.

When I first saw this painting it took my breath away. But first a little background which will aid understanding.

Picture a point, then a line of length unit one, then a square of side unit length one, then a cube of similar side length. What we have drawn when we draw a cube is the equivalentof a line in three dimensions. Now, if you can, picture or at least imagine the equivalent of cube in four dimensions, this is a hypercube.

Now unfold outwards the sides of a cube. What we get is cross formed of adjacent squares, a cube represented in two dimensions. We can do the same with a hypercube, fold it out into three dimensions, but istead of adjacent squares in the form of a cross, what we get is adjacent cubes in the form of a three dimensional cross.

That is what I saw and that is what took my breath away, Christ was nailed not with nails but with cubes to a hypercube. Effectively what Dali was saying was Christ was being taken to another dimension, He was crossing the transitiion zone, but Dali was saying this using the mathemetical symbols in the painting.

It was some time in the 1970s. I was doing the first year of Arts at University. I gave a talk on what I saw. Everyone was astounded, they had not seen this before. But then why should they, they would need to not only understand the mathematics but also be able to imagine a hypercube.

Crossing the transition zone works both ways. Dali pictures Jesus crossing into another dimenension, but we also have God the infinite being represented by a frail human being.

As Paul so eloquently put it in Colossians 1:15: He is the image of the invisible God.

‘I thirst’ the last cry on the cross, the frailty of a human being, the eternity of God.

St Augustine understood only too well this crossing of the transition zone:

He becomes what we are, in order that we might become what he is.

Or to quote the Athanasian Creed:

Although he is both divine and human
He is not two beings but one Christ.
One, not by turning God into flesh
But by taking humanity into God.

Anyone who says Dali had no understanding of mathemetics not only does not know what they are talking about, but they themselves have no understanding either. It is like those fools who look for conflict between different religions or religions and science.

We can see this symbolism in his other paintings.

If we assume nothing appears by chance, and with Dali that is a reasonable assumption, then what of the chessboard? What does it mean? Anyone who has read The Eight (and if not please do) will realise this is a very good question.

It is not something I have thought about before and the simple answer is I do not know. I can only speculate. God as the Grand Chess Master. What then of the figure looking up? We know she is Gala, Dalí’s wife, but what or who does she represent? Is she Mary? If yes, then which Mary, Mary the Mother of Christ or Mary Magdalene? If this is a game of chess, is she the Queen?

More on the life and and works of Dali at

Fundacio Gala-Salvador Dali

Crucifixion hangs in Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York.

The Cross
Salvador Dali: painting the fourth dimension
‘I Thirst’
Holy Week
The First Easter Week Musing
Quema de Palmitos
Ash Wednesday
The Cross
Passover supper
Maundy Thursday
The Celebration of the Lord’s Passion

‘I Thirst’

April 20, 2011

I Thirst

After this, Jesus, knowing that all was now finished, said (to fulfill the Scripture), ‘I thirst’. A jar full of sour wine stood there, so they put a sponge full of the sour wine on a hyssop branch and held it to his mouth. When Jesus had received the sour wine, he said, “It is finished,” and he bowed his head and gave up his spirit. — John 19:28-30

‘I Thirst’, according to the Gospel of John (John 19:28), these were the last words Jesus cried out on the cross before he died.

It was during his time as parish priest at St Wilfred’s in Chichester during the late 1980s, early 1990s, that the church acquired a new cross. It was from reflecting on the cross and a sermon Stephen Cottrell gave the following Good Friday there grew a series of meditations on the cross.

Lent is a period of reflection, of spiritual renewal. This is often forgotten when we hear people telling us what they have given up for Lent. Are they really renewed because they have given up chocolate for a few weeks? No doubt to then pig on a chocolate Easter Egg.

Lent is supposed to be a time when we review our spiritual life, think about what what it means to be a follower of Christ, reset the compass of our discipleship, and prepare ourselves to celebrate the Easter festival. But often we just give up biscuits.

It is a monastic tradition lectio divinato (divine reading) to read a passage from scripture out loud, then in the silence that follows to speak out a word or phrase, then mediate upon what has been read.

It is in that tradition that Stephen Cottrell asks that you read and meditate upon ‘I Thirst’, appropriately subtitled The Cross – The Great Triumph of Love.

N T Wright, The Challenge of Jesus:

The cross is the surest, truest and deepest window on the very heart and character of the living and loving God; the more we learn about the cross, in all its historical and theological dimensions, the more we discover about the one in whose image we are made, and hence about our own vocation to be the cross-bearing people, the people in whose lives and services the living God is known.

Essential reading for Easter.

Passover supper
Holy Week
Suffering
The First Easter Week Musing
Quema de Palmitos
Ash Wednesday
The Cross