Stations in the Spring: Faith in the Fields of Carthagena
Spring is always a time of renewal, which we see in nature as the days get warmer and the grass turns greener. Catholics enter a period of spiritual renewal, often through prayerful meditation, as Lent begins, then culminates in the celebration of new life at Easter.
Meditation on our Lord’s passion has occurred in many forms; the Stations of the Cross are one of those traditional Lenten devotions. St. Francis of Assisi had such a great love for the Passion that his order erected Stations of the Cross based on Holy Land locations from the Via Dolorosa (Way of Suffering, Jesus’ path through Jerusalem as He carried His Cross). For those who could not travel to Jerusalem these 14 stops were a convenient pilgrimage in their own village or church.
Today, Stations of the Cross grace the walls of our churches and are prayed in community throughout the Lenten season. Outdoor opportunities also exist throughout our archdiocese, enabling the faithful to enjoy the spring days in sacred spaces. St. Charles Center in Carthagena is one such place.
Purchased and opened as a seminary by the Missionaries of the Precious Blood in 1861, St. Charles Center is a “rural castle” that appears out of the fields when driving north on US Route 127. Today, it is a private residence for retired priests, brothers and lay people to live and pray together, but offers public worship space.
The Center’s cemetery, grotto and Stations of the Cross are beautiful outdoor spaces available to all. Locals often visit to pray for former pastors, professors and friends buried in the cemetery, which, with the Stations, pre-dates the chapel and main building. In 1901 the Stations of the Cross were installed at the new cemetery’s boundaries, where deceased members of the Missionaries of the Precious Blood are still being laid to rest. In the cemetery’s center is a large crucifix that reminds us, as Paul says in Ephesians, “In Christ, your Son through the blood He shed, we have forgiveness of our sins” (Ep. 1:7).
A niche houses each of the 14 Stations encircling the cemetery. White statues stand over two feet tall, set off by rusty red backdrops. Intricately detailed, the folds in the cloth, sharpness of the nails, and delicate hands on each piece give life to the story of Christ’s Passion. Even visitors without printed reflection pamphlets can find prayerful inspiration through the faces depicted in the outdoor Stations.
These historic Stations of the Cross at St. Charles Center in Carthagena are a fresh way to deepen your spiritual life during this time of the year. And the natural splendor and architectural attraction of St. Charles inspires visitors all year long.
* The Center’s cemetery, grotto and Stations of the Cross are beautiful outdoor spaces open to the public, though facility managers ask that visitors not wander into residential hallways or paths leading to other areas of the property.
This article appeared in the April 2022 edition of The Catholic Telegraph Magazine. For your complimentary subscription, click here.