Handmade Stations of the Cross, fully funded and created by members of St. James Parish in Lititz, were installed as a gift to the parish and the greater community this Lenten season.
The Stations feature images of Jesus’ journey to Calvary to his death and triumphant Resurrection. The Way of the Cross begins adjacent to the parish center, stretches along a path to the rectory, and symbolically culminates at the top of a small hill at the edge of the property.
The clay tiles for the project were fashioned by parishioner and professional artist, Amy Holland, whose handiwork was specifically requested when members of the parish’s That Man is You group brainstormed last year about having outdoor Stations on the parish grounds.
“We had seen some examples of clay tiles for Stations, and we thought if we could have someone from our parish do it, it would be special and unique,” said Deacon Tom Owsinski.
Holland spent several months working on the images, an undertaking that began with pouring over hundreds of pictures of the Stations – from paintings and drawings to movie stills and pictures of Living Stations of the Cross.
“I get really emotional when I go to Stations of the Cross,” Holland said. “They’re hard images to look at, to hear about, and to ponder. In creating these, I thought about the vision I had in my mind every time I heard about each one. Knowing the image I wanted to created, I looked at samples of artwork throughout art history, and took bits and pieces of each to draw what I would use for the tiles.”
A professional potter, Holland used a technique called sgraffito, carving the designs into a black glaze that reveals the clay beneath. This technique allows people to feel the image.
“The first ten Stations came relatively easy on an emotional level, but the more difficult ones were those with Jesus on the Cross,” Holland said. “It was a sacred gift to be able to do this. It was powerful and overwhelming.”
Father James O’Blaney, CSSR, pastor, led a prayer service on March 21, a week after a team of volunteers spent hours installing them with machine equipment and hand tools.
The entire project was made possible by the efforts of parishioners, who sponsored Stations and offered time and talent to assemble and install them.
“The community really came together to have these installed, and we’re so fortunate to have them up during Lent,” said Deacon Owsinski.
“I’m hoping it draws people to St. James Church,” Holland said. “Even if you don’t believe in religion, this is history, this really happened. I hope people walk up here to see the story of Jesus’ crucifixion and Resurrection.”
(Photos by Jen Reed, The Catholic Witness.)
By Jen Reed, The Catholic Witness