The Stations of the Cross
It is quite unusually for the church to have two sets of stations as we have in our Corpus Christi:
- The Traditional 14 Stations,
- The 14 Stations called 'Headington Stations' sculpted by the artist Faith Tolkien, are placed above the traditional ones and were blessed on the 18th October 1988.
The following information about the Headington Stations is reproduced with minor changes from the booklet "The Tolkien Stations of the Cross", published in 1989.
1. The Historical note.
Fourteen Stations of the Cross are a familiar sight in Catholic churches. The images or carvings fixed to the walls depict events on Christ's journey to his death on the cross; they invite us to pause at the 'station', to reflect and to pray, as pilgrims still do on the Via Dolorosa (way of sorrows) in Jerusalem. 'Making (or doing) the Stations', as the devotion is called, is a fruitful method of prayer, traditional on Fridays in Lent. A fifteenth station is sometimes added to represent the Resurrection, to encourage people to reflect on how the love of God overcame death in Christ. William Wey, one of the original fellows of Eton College who went on pilgrimage in 1458 and 1462, was the first to use the term 'station' (stop, standing) in connection with the devotion, apparently because it was always made standing. To read to the full article follow this link.
2. The Headington stations.
The Church has a long tradition of commissioning works of art, e.g. by Giotto, Michelangelo, Pugin. We also have a long tradition of buying poor-quality repository art, especially in parishes where there is no money to commission artists. Corpus Christi parish was heavily in debt when the previous plastic stations were acquired. I became parish priest in 1980 and discovered that comparatively few people came to the Stations of the Cross on Fridays in Lent. We tried sharing stations on alternate Fridays with St Andrew's parish (C. of E.) as an ecumenical venture. It did not really work well, even though St Andrew's acquired a rather good set of poster-style station. To read to the full article follow this link.
3. The Artist's Introduction.
My first idea for this commission was that the interior of the church could be encircled by the story of Holy Week, the week in which we celebrate Jesus' accomplishment of his mission, our salvation: this is the heart of our faith and the heart of the Christian year. I hoped the stations would inspire meditation and praise, and would renew faith and hope in everyone who looked at them. Of course, many of them depict great suffering: nevertheless, the complete story of the Gospel – the good news – 'glad tidings of great joy'. It had been agreed that all the stations should be scripturally based so that they could speak to all Christians and so help to bring Christians together. To read to the full article follow this link.
4. Presentation of Headington (Tolkien) stations.