Denver, Colo., Apr 7, 2023 / 04:00 am (CNA).
Good Friday is considered for many one of the holiest days of the liturgical year. Part of the Triduum, Good Friday is the day the Church turns its attention to the cross on Ca… […]
The crucifix depicting the 12th station of South America’s largest Stations of the Cross in Tandil, Buenos Aires Province, in Argentina. / Credit: Banfield, CC BY-SA 3.0 via Wikimedia Commons
CNA Newsroom, Jan 14, 2023 / 08:00 am (CNA).
The largest Stations of the Cross in South America, located in the city of Tandil in the Buenos Aires province in Argentina, turned 80 on Jan. 10.
Bishop Fortunato Devoto — then auxiliary bishop of Buenos Aires — along with his cousin, Pedro Redolatti, promoted the initiative, which was finally dedicated in 1943.
The crucifix depicting the 12th station is almost 50 feet tall. The other sculptures representing Christ’s Way of the Cross are about twice life-size.
The faithful and tourists can get to the crucifix by climbing a 195-step stone staircase that goes up the hill on which the crucifix stands.
The Via Crucis is a very popular site for those visiting the mountainous area of Buenos Aires province and is one of the most impressive sites in the city of Tandil.
Contributing to the construction of the project were the municipality of Tandil and the provincial and national governments, as well as private donors.
The original cross was made from a 100-year-old conifer tree, a donation from the director of Provincial Parks, Ezequiel Bustillo. Over time the cross deteriorated, and in 1949 it was replaced by a cement one.
The dedication ceremony was attended by the then president of Argentina, Ramón Castillo, and the mayor of the city of Tandil, William Leeson.
Among the clergy present were the apostolic nuncio, Bishop Giuseppe Fietta; the bishop of Azul, César Caneva; Bishop Miguel D’Andrea, auxiliary bishop of Buenos Aires; and Father Julio Chienno, the pastor of Tandil.
It is estimated that the dedication ceremony was attended by about 40,000 people. By then, Bishop Fortunato Devoto had already passed away — he died in 1941.
During Holy Week, thousands of believers from different parts of Argentina and other countries come to the Via Crucis.
In the first few days of 2023, the National Commission of Monuments, Places, and Historical Assets of the Chamber of Deputies (lower house) issued its opinion in favor of having the Mount Calvary of Tandil declared a National Historic Monument.
A bill to that effect was introduced in June 2022 by Rogelio Iparraguirre, a representative in the Chamber of Deputies. If it becomes law, it will enable greater investment for the site’s conservation.
This story was first published by ACI Prensa, CNA’s Spanish-language news partner. It has been translated and adapted by CNA.
A detail of Timothy P. Schmalz’s fourth station: Jesus meets his mother. / Courtesy of Timothy P. Schmalz
Washington, D.C. Newsroom, Sep 18, 2022 / 04:00 am (CNA).
Catholic artist Timothy P. Schmalz sought to find and bring to life the most important subject matter an artist could ever express.
“I wanted to create a sculpture project that would be the heart of Christianity,” the Canadian sculptor said.
He settled on Christ’s crucifixion and death.
His new creation, once finished, will be a life-size set of the 14 Stations of the Cross — scenes depicting Christ’s journey from being condemned to death to his burial — placed right next to Disney World. The faithful will be able to encounter the 12-foot tall, 11-feet wide sculptures at the Basilica of Our Lady Queen of the Universe, in Orlando, Florida.
“I hope to rival Universal Studios, Walt Disney, and every other feature in Orlando by creating what has never been done before, and that is one of the biggest, most complex Stations of the Cross,” Schmalz said.
Schmalz is not new to sculpting. The experienced artist’s work can be found worldwide, from St. Peter’s Square in the Vatican to Washington, D.C. He is perhaps best known for his “Homeless Jesus” sculpture and the “Angels Unaware” statue.
His new Stations of the Cross, he hopes, will serve as a tool for evangelization and conversion for the roughly 50 million people that visit Disney each year.
“It’s right in the center of a place that desperately needs a spiritual Catholic oasis,” he said, adding that bringing the Stations of the Cross to Orlando is “bringing the Gospels [to] where the people are, in a sense.”
The stations — which combine mural painting and sculpture — will offer visitors “visual doorways into a Catholic-Christian experience,” he said.
So far, he has completed the first four stations: Jesus is condemned to death, Jesus carries his cross, Jesus falls for the first time, and Jesus meets his mother.
It will take another year, he says, before all 14 are done. On his YouTube channel, Schmalz walks viewers through the process of creating each station, from sketching them on paper to sculpting them in bronze.
Each scene, made of bronze, bursts with symbolism, movement, and emotion. The foreground shows Jesus’ passion. In the background, Schmalz plans to include every single parable found in the New Testament.
“When you see Jesus in the front, you’re going to see … a raw, hardcore scene from the passion,” he said. “But in the distance, you’re going to see the parables that he taught us. So it might be in the distance, you’ll see a camel trying to get through a little hole in the wall or the eye of the needle.”
While he works in his studio located in St. Jacobs, in Ontario, Canada, he listens to an audio recording of the New Testament, he said.
“Things are pulled out and things describe themselves as I create,” he explained, comparing his role to a “passenger” or “director.”
The stations are getting funded by various donors, he said, as he works on them. As they progress from one to 14, each station will become “more and more intense.”
“The passion now has become my passion,” he said.
He hopes that viewers will feel like they are a part of the stations.
“We know there’s a lot of kids going to Walt Disney in Orlando every year,” he said, giving one example. “I’m putting a lot of children within them so they can see themselves in the scene.”
The 53-year-old artist also sees himself in them.
“It’s fascinating because you really become a part of the subject matter as you’re working on it,” he said. “It evolves and it grows as you’re working on it, and it’s almost like it tells you what to do in a sense where I don’t necessarily know exactly how the piece will end up.”
He called the project mentally, spiritually, and physically taxing. He might dedicate one entire day to creating a little corner of one of the stations, he said, and another day just focusing on the face of Jesus.
But, he added, the work is worth it. These stations allow him, as an artist, to “get to the absolute essence of Christianity” in the hope that “it will be one of the greatest tools to convert and inspire Christianity.”
“I want [people] to come back from Orlando and, sure, talk about the rides, talk about Mickey Mouse. But I want them to say that the most exciting and most interesting and most moving thing with their vacation was this Stations of the Cross project,” he said. “And if I can do that with this piece of artwork, I have succeeded.”
At a time when many people are attacking Christianity and Christian symbols, Schmalz’s response is to create new, stronger symbols. “Sculptures that are bold, sculptures that celebrate and glorify Christ, but also encourage people to walk through that doorway and see Christ in focus,” he said.
“As they try to make us invisible, we have to sharpen,” he concluded. “And me, as an artist, that is my job, to sharpen our identity with these symbols and art.”
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