If you ever pray the Rosary, and like me you have difficulty meditating on the mysteries without a visual image to focus on, here are some examples you might consider for the Sorrowful Mysteries. Praying the beads as you ponder the events of the crucifixion is recommended by Pope Francis as a spiritual practice during Lent. I’m including these paintings with relevant scripture but without commentary so that your focus is the image itself, rather than the written word. The captions provide basic information about the paintings. For instructions on how to pray the Rosary, see here. Remember you can click on each image for a larger version, and some can be enlarged further with another click if a plus sign appears as your cursor.
First Sorrowful Mystery:
The Agony in the Garden
Kneeling down, He began to pray, “Father if it be your will, take this cup from me, yet not my will but yours be done”…In His anguish he prayed even more intensely, and his sweat became like drops of blood falling to the ground. Luke 22:42,44
Second Sorrowful Mystery:
Scourging at the Pillar
Pilate released Barabbas to them. Jesus, however, he first had scourged; then he handed Him over to be crucified. Matthew 27:26
Third Sorrowful Mystery:
The Crowning with Thorns
Weaving a crown of thorns they fixed it on his head, and placed a reed in His right hand. To make fun of Him they knelt before Him saying: “Hail, King of the Jews.” They spat on Him, and took the reed and kept striking Him on the head. Matthew 27:29-30
Fourth Sorrowful Mystery:
The Carrying of the Cross
When the soldiers had finished mocking Him, …they led him away to crucify Him. On the way they laid hold of a certain Simon of Cyrene, coming from the country, and upon him they laid the cross to bear it after Jesus. Matthew 27:31, Luke 23:26
Fifth Sorrowful Mystery:
When they came to the place called the Skull, they crucified Him …Jesus said, “Father, forgive them, for they do not know what they are doing”…There was darkness over the whole land until the ninth hour…and Jesus cried out with a loud voice, “Father, into your hands I commend my spirit”. Luke 23:33,34,44,46
Each image uses different textures, lighting, and compositional elements (close focus, versus distinct or obscrured landscape, versus conglomerations of people) to focus our attention on elements of the sorrow.
We will be in Rome for Passion Week. We are deliberating whether to do the Stations of the Cross on Good Friday at St Croce in Gerusalmme (my pick, given the connection to Constintine’s Mom, St. Helena) or the Coliseum with Pope Frances (our travel companions pick). I’m good for both, depending on how long we have to stand in line at the Coliseum… “hold my place, I’m going for wine and pasta…”
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How wonderful that will be for you! Enjoying your comments on my blog, thanks for taking the time!
It’s interesting that you noted that “Each image uses different textures, lighting, and compositional elements (close focus, versus distinct or obscrured landscape, versus conglomerations of people) to focus our attention on elements of the sorrow.”
Later on it occurred to me that they appear this way on my blog because they were all carefully curated choices on my part to convey a particular emphasis or mood. For example, the Rubens reflects a strong corporeal element for the flagellation; for Christ carrying the cross I wanted a sense of the crowd noise and the distance he had to bear the cross; to impart the agony of the crucifixion, what other choice could it be than Grunewald’s excruciating work? Someone else might choose works with a completely different feeling, but these reflect my personal mental image of the events.