This is how my parish church has looked since Ash Wednesday.
Look at the clean, brightly polished white marble floors! They reflect the surroundings like a mirror.
Located to the left side of our sanctuary is this Lenten display. It’s located in the same place that the Christmas creche occupied several weeks ago.
Do you recognize all the symbols of Christ’s Passion and Death?
The cross, of course, is the central symbol. Jesus was crucified on a cross of wood on which a sign displayed the words, “Jesus of Nazareth, King of the Jews.” Those words were written in Aramaic, Latin, and Greek.
The crown of thorns was an instrument of Jesus’ Passion. It was placed on Jesus’ head when the soldiers who had charge of Him mocked and ridiculed Him because he had claimed to have a Kingdom, though it was not of this world. Jesus silently endured this humiliation.
The cloth with an icon of Jesus’ head represents Veronica’s veil. It was used, according to Catholic tradition, by Veronica, a woman who had compassion on Jesus as He carried His cross toward Calvary, the place of crucifixion. Veronica wiped the blood and sweat from Jesus’ face and His image appeared on the cloth.
The large nails and spear were instruments of torture. Nails were pounded into Jesus arms and legs so His body would adhere to the cross during the crucifixion. A Roman soldier used the spear to pierce the side of Jesus. Blood and water oozed from that wound.
The chalice represents the cup used at the Last Supper when Jesus instituted the Eucharist. In Matthew 26 it is written, “Then [Jesus] took a cup, gave thanks, and gave it to [the disciples] saying, ‘Drink from it, all of you, for this is my blood of the covenant, which will be shed on behalf of the many for the forgiveness of sins.’ ” In Christian iconography of the crucifixion a chalice is sometimes shown being used to catch the stream of blood that issued from his wounded side. Here is an example of angels doing so. I have a small statue of Mary, Jesus’ mother, standing at the cross doing the same thing.
The rooster represents the cock that crowed after Peter denied Christ three times, as Jesus had predicted He would do.
The tunic and the dice go together. After the soldiers crucified Jesus they took his clothes and divided them into shares for each soldier. His tunic had no seams, so instead of tearing it apart, the soldiers cast lots. St. John’s gospel account quotes an excerpt from Psalm 22:
They divided my garments among them, and for my vesture they cast lots.
Pontius Pilate, the Roman prefect of Judea, ordered that Jesus be scourged with whips. It was after the scourging that the soldiers crowned Him with thorns. Then Pilate handed Jesus over to the soldiers to be crucified.
The coins and purse belonged to Judas Iscariot, one of Jesus’ 12 apostles. He betrayed Jesus to the Jewish authorities for the price of thirty pieces of silver. Judas regretted his betrayal and returned the blood money, as it was called, to the chief priests and elders of the temple. Mathew’s gospel account says Judas hanged himself, while Acts of the Apostles says he fell, probably from a high place, and died of his injuries.
The last item appears to be a chain. I believe this might have been used to represent the instrument used to break the legs of those who were crucified. In John’s gospel the legs of the thieves crucified with Jesus were broken to assure that they were dead and could be taken from the crosses on which they had been hanged. But, in Jesus’ case, the soldiers didn’t break his legs because he was already dead.