28 March 2018

Following the Stations
of the Cross in Lent 43:
Lichfield 11: Nailed

‘Nailed’ … Station 11 in the Chapel at Saint John’s Hospital, Lichfield, Jesus is nailed to the cross (Photograph: Patrick Comerford)

Patrick Comerford

This is Holy Week and the last week in Lent. Throughout Holy Week, there are special services in each of the churches in the Rathkeale and Kilnaughtin Group of Parishes. This evening, this service is Compline at 8 p.m. in Holy Trinity Church, Rathkeale, Co Limerick.

In many places, this Wednesday in Holy Week is also known as Spy Wednesday or Good Wednesday, although in Malta it is the ‘Wednesday of Shadow,’ while in the Orthodox Churches, the Wednesday in Holy Week is known as Holy and Great Wednesday.

Throughout Lent, my meditations each morning are guided by three sets of Stations of the Cross that I have found either inspiring or unusual. These 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.

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.

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 11: ‘Nailed’

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 I was a 19-year-old, I have regarded this chapel as my spiritual home.

The Eleventh Station in the Stations of the Cross has a traditional description such as ‘Jesus is nailed to the cross.’ But at the Eleventh 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: ‘Nailed.’

When I put in a search for Nails on Google, trying any of the towns I have lived in, I get endless lists of nail bars offering glamorous treatments that I am never going to contemplate or need.

But there is nothing glamorous about the nails and hands in Station XI in these Stations of the Cross in Lichfield.

In this station, the cross is at an awkward angle as a soldier holds a hammer awkwardly in his right hand and drives a nail into Christ’s left hand. Christ’s right hand hangs limply by his side, his feet are yet to be nailed together to the unseen base of the shaft of the cross, his eyes are filled with pain, yet waiting for more pain.

From Stabat Mater:

Lord Jesus, crucified, have mercy on us!
Holy Mother, pierce me through!
In my heart, each wound renew
Of my Saviour crucified.


Cold steel. Warm flesh
Nails rip through tendon and muscle.
Blood soaks into splintered wood.
Jesus responds:
‘Father forgive them for they know not what they do.’


Merciful Redeemer, you declared your forgiveness from the cross, showing love to those who killed you and to the thief dying alongside you. Help us to know and count the cost of our forgiveness, bought at so great a price. 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.

You are stretched out on the cross you have carried so far. The soldiers take big nails and drive them into your hands and feet. You feel abandoned by the people you loved so much. People seem to have gone mad. You have done nothing but good, yet they drive nails through your hands and feet.

The Collect of the Day (Wednesday in Holy Week):

Lord God, whose blessed Son our Saviour gave his back to the smiters, and did not hide his face from shame: Give us grace to endure the sufferings of this present time, with sure confidence in the glory that shall be revealed; through Jesus Christ your Son our Lord. Amen.

The Lenten Collect:

Almighty and everlasting God,
you hate nothing that you have made
and forgive the sins of all those who are penitent:
Create and make in us new and contrite hearts
that we, worthily lamenting our sins
and acknowledging our wretchedness,
may receive from you, the God of all mercy,
perfect remission and forgiveness;
through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

A prayer before walking to the next station:

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

Tomorrow: ‘Dies’ … Station 12 in the Chapel at Saint John’s Hospital, Lichfield, Jesus dies on the cross.

Yesterday’s reflection

Inside the Chapel in Saint John’s Hospital, Lichfield … the painting behind the Altar, beneath John Piper’s East Window, shows Christ receiving his Cross (Photograph: Patrick Comerford)

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