10 March 2018

Following the Stations
of the Cross in Lent 25:
Millstreet 8: Jesus
meets the Holy Women

Station 8 at Saint John’s Well, Millstreet, Co Cork … Jesus meets the Holy Women (Photograph: Patrick Comerford)

Patrick Comerford

In my meditations and reflections in Lent this year, I am being guided by the Stations of the Cross from three locations. The idea for this series of morning Lenten meditations comes from reading about Peter Walker’s new exhibition, ‘Imagining the Crucifixion,’ inspired by the Stations of the Cross, which opened in Lichfield Cathedral last month and continues throughout Lent.

Throughout Lent, my meditations each morning are inspired by three sets of Stations of the Cross that I have found either inspiring or unusual. They are the stations in Saint Mel’s Cathedral, Longford, at Saint John’s Well on a mountainside near Millstreet, Co Cork, and in the Chapel of Saint John’s Hospital, Lichfield.

In my meditations, I am drawing on portions of the Stabat Mater, the 12th century hymn of the Crucifixion (‘At the cross her station keeping’) attributed to the Franciscan poet Jacopone da Todi. Some prayers are traditional, some are from the Book of Common Prayer, and other meditations and prayers are by Canon Frank Logue and the Revd Victoria Logue of the Episcopal Diocese of Georgia.

For these two weeks, I am looking at the 14 Stations of the Cross at Saint John’s Well in a forested area on the slopes of Mushera, outside Millstreet in north Co Cork.

Saint John’s Well is 8 or 9 km south-east of Millstreet, on the slopes of Mushera, on the Aubane side of the mountain, opposite the entrance to Millstreet Country Park and a short distance from the Cork/Kerry border. The Stations date from 1984 and were designed by Liam Cosgrave and Sons, Sculptors, of Blackpool, Cork.

Millstreet 8: Jesus meets the Holy Women

In the eighth station by Liam Cosgrave in Millstreet, we see Jesus carrying his cross on his own, without the assistance of Simon of Cyrene or the pushing and pulling of the soldiers taking him to his death.

But three weeping women meet Jesus on his way along the Via Dolorosa through the streets of Jerusalem. On the Via Dolorosa in Jerusalem, Station VIII is beside the Greek Orthodox Monastery of Saint Charalampus, where it is marked by a cross and the Greek word NIKA, meaning Victory, carved into the wall.

Three months ago [December 2017], Time magazine named the #MeToo movement, the Silence Breakers and the voices that launched a movement, as ‘Person of the Year.’

Who are the women who bear the suffering of the world and for you offer hope to the world today?

I can think of Rosa Parkes, the Greenham Women in the 20th century, or the suffragettes who secured the vote for women 100 years ago this year.

I think of former President McAleese, who went ahead with her speech in Rome on International Women’s Day on Thursday [8 March 2018], despite Cardinal Kevin Farrell’s efforts to stop her speaking in the Vatican because of her support for the ordination of women. It is not just the Vatican, but all sections and traditions in the Church, that need to sit up and listen to her prophetic words.

I think of the women’s protests across the US in January, worried not just about President Trump’s politics and policies, but the culture of sexism and misogyny that underpins this Trump presidency.

I think of the Women in Black, an anti-war movement around the world, including the women who have held constant silent protests in Cambridge on Saturdays since 2002.

I think of the Mothers of the Disappeared in Argentina, who continue to protest in the Plaza de Maya 40 years after they first protested in Buenos Aires.

Whose voices are you listening to today?

Whose tears do you see being shed for the world today?

From Stabat Mater:

Lord Jesus, crucified, have mercy on us!
For the sins of His own nation
Saw Him hang in desolation
Till His Spirit forth He sent.


Tears. Wailing. Daughters. Mothers. Grief.
Women beat their breasts and mourn openly,
for the Son of Man, but his concern is for them and their children
in the days of woe yet to come.


Son of Man, you told the women of Jerusalem to weep not for you but for themselves and their children. Give us the gift of tears for our own sins, that we may mourn the ways in which we fall short of the glory of God that we may truly repent and return to you. This we pray in the name of Jesus, our crucified Lord, the King of Glory, the King of Peace. Amen.

We adore you, O Christ, and we praise you.
Because by your holy cross You have redeemed the world.

Jesus, as you carry your cross, you see a group of women along the road. As you pass by, you see they are sad. You stop to spend a moment with them, to offer them some encouragement. Although you have been abandoned by your friends and are in pain, you stop and try to help them.

A prayer before walking to the next station:

Holy God,
Holy and mighty Holy immortal one,
Have mercy on us.

Breaking the Silence … whose voices are being heard today, whose tears are being shed for the world?

Tomorrow: Station 9: Jesus falls for the third time.

Yesterday’s reflection

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