Fr Radcliffe’s stations are both deep and beautiful

Stations of the Cross

Timothy Radcliffe

Bloomsbury (€12.99)

For centuries, Christians have re-enacted the passion and life-giving death of Christ. Initially, the first Christian believers followed Christ’s actual footsteps along Jerusalem’s Via Dolorosa.

As Christianity spread rapidly throughout the known world and pilgrimage to Jerusalem remained the preserve of the few, the tradition of recreating the stations in artistic form in churches and basilicas gained popularity.

The tradition – as we have it today – of moving around the stations began with St Francis of Assisi and extended throughout Christendom in the medieval period.

Dominican preacher Fr Timothy Radcliffe has rightly earned a reputation for helping Christians understand the place of spirituality in daily life.

In this new Stations of the Cross, he brings fresh life and insight in to an ancient devotional practise that some may associate with another generation.


Fr Radcliffe’s depth of reflection and adept ability to see the passion narrative of Christ played out each and every day in our world proves that the stations are a thoroughly modern expression of faith and spirituality.

Subtley, he guides the seeker through each station from being a meditation on the drama of Christ’s final hours to a reflection on our modern world and finally an examination of personal conscience.

In the first station, Jesus is condemned to death; Fr Radcliffe sets the farcical trial scene and ponders whether Pontius Pilate makes little effort to help Jesus “because he is a weary cynic who does not care” or “because it is good to look tough on crime even if the wrong person gets the punishment?”


He draws the reader to our own day where many people, “especially poor black people in the United States, are sentenced to death without a proper defence because the lawyers have not studied the case and appear not to care”.

One’s sense of rage at this ongoing injustice in incarnated in our own lives as we are brought to ponder whether we judge unjustly. “Poor people are judged to be scroungers, lazy and feckless. We are quick to judge others. Maybe this is because we fear to stand out from the crowd. It is dangerous to disagree with the majority,” Fr Radcliffe concluded.

Each short meditation is packed with depth and multi-layered food for thought, reflection and prayer. The book is written is such a way as to facilitate a reflection on a single station or the 14 stations as a whole.

Were it just for the piercing meditations, this book would be a marvellous invitation to deepen meditation. But, Fr Radcliffe’s reflections are beautifully complimented by the wonderfully expressive illustrations of Bro. Martin Erspamer OSB.

The illustrations allow the seeker to enter in to a deeper relationship with the main characters in the passion narrative.

Stations of the Cross is a beautiful and thoughtful book that deserves to be widely read. It is a must-have for anyone who wants to deepen their prayer and spiritual life, particularly in the context of Lent.