The Stations of the Cross | St. James Cathedral



St. James Cathedral has been given a new set of Stations of the Cross, which will hang in the Cathedral each year during the season of Lent.  The stations are the work of Joan Brand-Landkamer.

An etching by Georges Rouault, above left, inspired Station XII 

Joan Brand-Landkamer began work on these stations many years ago, completing them in the fall of 2009.  She used “found objects” from the beach near her home in Ocean Shores—wood, rope, and wire—to create a contemporary interpretation of the centuries-old devotion of the Stations of the Cross.

Joan’s previous work for the Cathedral, an extensive set of icons, drew on the tradition of Russian and Ethiopian iconography.  The Stations are quite different, and were inspired by the work of Georges Rouault, the 20th-century French artist, and in particular his series of engravings entitled Miserere.  In Joan’s words, “I stood on the shoulders of Rouault, the master.”

Rouault originally created the drawings that make up Miserere during World War I, but for various reasons their publication was delayed until 1947.  The series speaks powerfully of human suffering and betrayal, and includes a number of images of the suffering Christ, juxtaposed with images of suffering humanity:  corrupt judges and politicians, fools, prostitutes and prisoners.  “Form, colour, harmony… oasis or mirage for the eyes, the heart, or the spirit,” wrote Rouault in his preface to the volume; “Jesus on the cross will tell you better than I.”

Two cruel faces from Georges Rouault's Miserere
are echoed in Station XI

Rouault’s drawings are dark, intense, emotional, thoroughly modern and thoroughly Catholic.  Art critic Anthony Blunt wrote of Miserere, “That he is a fervent Catholic is obvious from some of his works and certainly deducible from all of them, even from the least evidently religious.  But he is a Catholic reacting to the peculiar conditions of the 20th century…. When he paints the crucified Christ it is not as a remote event in the past or as a traditional symbol, but as the expression of a faith which he believes can still move mountains.”  Rouault himself said, “My only ambition is to be able someday to paint a Christ so moving that those who see him will be converted.”

Though Rouault never created a series of Stations of the Cross, his introspective style and focus on the suffering Christ blends perfectly with the traditional devotion, which challenges our complacency and calls us to action.

WHAT ARE THE STATIONS OF THE CROSS?  The Stations of the Cross are one of the favorite devotions of the Catholic faithful.  The Stations are a spiritual pilgrimage, as the faithful walk alongside Jesus on his last journey to Calvary.  The Stations originated in Jerusalem, where as early as the fourth century pilgrims were walking in the footsteps of the Lord, pausing to pray at the various places mentioned in the passion narratives.  In the late Middle Ages, when pilgrimage to the Holy Land became more and more difficult, people found ways to make that holy pilgrimage at home.  The Stations varied widely in number, from as few as five to as many as twenty.  Not until the 18th century, under the influence of the Franciscans, did the Stations take the form we know today, with fourteen stations, recalling scriptural and traditional episodes on the road to Calvary.  


Pray the Stations
STATION I · II · III · IV · V · VI · VII · VIII · IX · X · XI · XII · XIII · XIV · Resurrection

Art by Joan Brand-Landkamer.  Photos (c) St. James Cathedral, 2010.  All rights reserved.