Friday, 23 March 2018

Following the Stations
of the Cross in Lent 38:
Lichfield 6: Veronica

‘Veronica’ … Station 6 in the Chapel at Saint John’s Hospital, Lichfield, Veronica wipes the face of Jesus (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 came 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 until the end of 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.

Lichfield 6: ‘Veronica’

For these last two weeks in Lent, I am looking at the 14 Stations of the Cross in the Chapel of Saint John’s Hospital, Lichfield. Since the age of 19, I have regarded this chapel as my spiritual home.

The Sixth Station in the Stations of the Cross has a traditional description such as ‘Veronica wipes the face of Jesus.’ But in the Sixth Station in the Chapel of Saint John’s Hospital, Lichfield, instead of a traditional full description, there is one simple word in plain capital letters: ‘Veronica.’

Veronica is not a Biblical or historical figure, but her name reminds us of every woman who takes a stand for truth, even when great personal costs and risks are involved.

I was staying at Glenstal Abbey when I heard the news that the journalist Veronica Guerin had been murdered on 26 June 1996. She first wrote for the Sunday Business Post and the Sunday Tribune, and began writing about crime for the Sunday Independent on 1994. She was shot dead while she was stopped at traffic lights near Newlands Cross, on the outskirts of Dublin. She was due to speak two days later at a conference in London on ‘journalists at risk.’

Her murder caused national outrage in Ireland, and the Taoiseach John Bruton called it ‘an attack on democracy.’

Her name and those of 38 other international journalists who died in the line of duty in 1996 were added to the Freedom Forum Journalists Memorial in Arlington, Virginia, in 1997. In 2000, she was named as one of the International Press Institute's 50 World Press Freedom Heroes of the past 50 years. The Veronica Guerin Memorial Scholarship at Dublin City University offers a bursary for a student following the MA in Journalism who wishes to specialise in investigative journalism.

Her husband Graham Turley has said: ‘Veronica stood for freedom to write. She stood as light, and wrote of life in Ireland today, and told the truth. Veronica was not a judge, nor was she a juror, but she paid the ultimate price with the sacrifice of her life.’

From Stabat Mater:

Lord Jesus, crucified, have mercy on us!
Can the human heart refrain
From partaking in her pain,
In that Mother’s pain untold?

Meditation:

Cloth. Sweat. Blood. Icon.
Legend tells of a woman wiping Jesus’ face and
gaining an image of Christ painted in his blood on her cloth.
In relieving the suffering of others we, too, find the face of Jesus.

Prayers:

Immanuel, God with us, you came as the image of God made flesh and we scorned you. May we seek not to do great things in your name, but to honour you with small acts of mercy done with great love. 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, suddenly a woman comes out of the crowd. Her name is Veronica. You can see how she cares for you as she takes a cloth and begins to wipe the blood and sweat from your face. She cannot do much, but she offers what little help she can.

A prayer before walking to the next station:

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

Tomorrow: ‘Second Fall’ … Station 7 in the Chapel at Saint John’s Hospital, Lichfield, Jesus falls for the second time.

Yesterday’s reflection

In the garden beside the chapel in Saint John’s Hospital, Lichfield (Photograph: Patrick Comerford)

No comments: