First Station of the Cross: Jesus is Condemned to Death

I don’t normally post an early draft of things, but I’ll probably be redrafting or rewriting these more than once in the years ahead. This Lent I gave myself the challenge of writing a sonnet for each Station of the Cross. (For those who need a brief explanation of what the stations are, there’s one at the bottom of this post.) The image for each post is the corresponding station in a set of frescoes in the Kathedrale Sankt Sebastian in Magdeburg that struck me forcefully enough for me to want to take photos of them all. Each stational sonnet is written from the viewpoint of a different character involved in the story.

I’m now sort of ready to start posting the current draft, so here’s the first of the stations.

I. Jesus is condemned to death – Pilate’s judgement

The years to come are time enough for fame.
This rising man had oracular hope:
an augury that all would know my name,
as I sought out my future’s glorious scope.

How echoes “Pilate” down the endless years?
Bound to the man in bindings before me;
confronting truth, confounded now by fears,
I wash my hands of blood, of gallows’ tree.

Behold a man such as I did not dream
of seeing – king they claim, while he denies
it, blood on his face curtaining a gleam
of triumph I think I glimpse in his eyes.

Bravely he goes, judged, raised high on the cross,
I left on the bench, self-sentenced to loss.

About the stations

These originated in the liturgy of the church in Jerusalem. Prayers were said at various points around the city, including those stopping points associated with the final walk of Jesus to his death, now commemorated by the modern Via Dolorosa. The traditional set of fourteen represents a harmonisation of the various gospel accounts, together with one completely apocryphal incident: St Veronica wiping Jesus’s face. These are the fourteen often represented in art on the walls of churches, and used for a walking meditation following the journey.

By Doug

13 thought on “Sonnets of the cross: first station”
  1. […] I. Jesus is condemned to death (Pilate’s story)II. Jesus takes up his cross (The centurion’s lot, part 1)III. Jesus falls for the first time (The centurion’s lot, part 2).IV. Jesus meets his mother – Mary’s miseryV. Simon of Cyrene’s story VI. Veronica’s veil: the sixth sonnet.VII. Jesus falls again: a bystander’s take. […]

  2. […] I. Jesus is condemned to death (Pilate’s story)II. Jesus takes up his cross (The centurion’s lot, part 1)III. Jesus falls for the first time (The centurion’s lot, part 2).IV. Jesus meets his mother – Mary’s miseryV. Simon of Cyrene’s story VI. Veronica’s veil: the sixth sonnet.VII. Jesus falls again: a bystander’s take.VIII. Meeting the mourners: the eighth station. […]

  3. […] I. Jesus is condemned to death (Pilate’s story)II. Jesus takes up his cross (The centurion’s lot, part 1)III. Jesus falls for the first time (The centurion’s lot, part 2).IV. Jesus meets his mother – Mary’s miseryV. Simon of Cyrene’s story VI. Veronica’s veil: the sixth sonnet.VII. Jesus falls again: a bystander’s take.VIII. Meeting the mourners: the eighth station. IX. The ninth station, the third fall. […]

  4. […] I. Jesus is condemned to death (Pilate’s story)II. Jesus takes up his cross (The centurion’s lot, part 1)III. Jesus falls for the first time (The centurion’s lot, part 2).IV. Jesus meets his mother – Mary’s miseryV. Simon of Cyrene’s story VI. Veronica’s veil: the sixth sonnet.VII. Jesus falls again: a bystander’s take.VIII. Meeting the mourners: the eighth station. IX. The ninth station, the third fall.X. It’s not personal, just business. […]

  5. […] I. Jesus is condemned to death (Pilate’s story)II. Jesus takes up his cross (The centurion’s lot, part 1)III. Jesus falls for the first time (The centurion’s lot, part 2).IV. Jesus meets his mother – Mary’s miseryV. Simon of Cyrene’s story VI. Veronica’s veil: the sixth sonnet.VII. Jesus falls again: a bystander’s take.VIII. Meeting the mourners: the eighth station. IX. The ninth station, the third fall.X. It’s not personal, just business.XI. Another inimical voice: the eleventh station […]

  6. […] I. Jesus is condemned to death (Pilate’s story)II. Jesus takes up his cross (The centurion’s lot, part 1)III. Jesus falls for the first time (The centurion’s lot, part 2).IV. Jesus meets his mother – Mary’s miseryV. Simon of Cyrene’s story VI. Veronica’s veil: the sixth sonnet.VII. Jesus falls again: a bystander’s take.VIII. Meeting the mourners: the eighth station. IX. The ninth station, the third fall.X. It’s not personal, just business.XI. Another inimical voice: the eleventh stationXII. The death of Jesus: sonnet twelve […]

  7. […] I. Jesus is condemned to death (Pilate’s story)II. Jesus takes up his cross (The centurion’s lot, part 1)III. Jesus falls for the first time (The centurion’s lot, part 2).IV. Jesus meets his mother – Mary’s miseryV. Simon of Cyrene’s story VI. Veronica’s veil: the sixth sonnet.VII. Jesus falls again: a bystander’s take.VIII. Meeting the mourners: the eighth station. IX. The ninth station, the third fall.X. It’s not personal, just business.XI. Another inimical voice: the eleventh stationXII. The death of Jesus: sonnet twelveXIII. Taking down the body: station thirteen […]

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