HERITAGE TOUR OF THE WAY OF THE CROSS
MARYFIELDS, CAMPBELLTOWN NSW
Conducted by a Franciscan friar
Way of the Cross, “Via Crucis” in Latin, also called
The Sorrowful Way, or “Via Dolorosa”, commemorates the way that Jesus trod in
Stations of the Cross, as we know them today, are fourteen stops along the Way
of the Cross that are clearly marked in the streets of
In 1999, “Maryfields” Stations of the Cross were listed as part of the Heritage of Campbelltown and we welcome you on this Heritage Tour to join us now in walking the Way of the Cross.
behind us is a statue of Christ with an angel, in a setting depicting the
At the First Station: Jesus before Pilate
we go into the history of the origins of the Way of the Cross in
This land is under the Tharawal Local Aboriginal Land Council.
Colonial times, in 1823, a grant of
At that time, the main building on the land was the old farmhouse, which has since been demolished.
The grounds were more or less as they are now. There was and still is a small creek flowing through the south-western part of the property that over the years has been dammed for agricultural purposes. Since 1930, an extensive tree-planting program has provided a wonderful habitat for birds around the dams. Over a hundred different species have been sighted here at “Maryfields”.
At the Second Station: Jesus carries the cross
Some of the stations have suffered damage by vandals. They were restored and all the stations were renovated under the direction of Jacek Luszczyk, Secular Franciscan and a professional restorer of heritage buildings. Jacek attended the Stations many time in the past as a participant and volunteered his time to restore them. His excellent work may be seen as we walk along. Fr Carl Schafer OFM has dedicated a page on his web site, SFO FILES, as a tribute to Jacek.
At the Third Station: Jesus falls the first time
the first ten centuries, there was no question of venerating the Way of the
Cross as we know it, either in
The Rudd family were agriculturists and the Franciscan friars continued this tradition since the first community began here in 1934. In 1935, the foundation stone for the Franciscan Novitiate was laid. Since that time many young men began their Franciscan life here. The friars worked the land, planted trees, and tended gardens on the property and the friar priests assisted the Catholic life of many people in nearby parishes.
At the Fourth Station: Jesus meets his mother
the Eleventh Century, Christians in
At the Fifth Station: Jesus is helped by the Cyrenean
pilgrims flocked to
The plan of the Stations at “Maryfields” came from two groups: one a group of Catholic laymen led by Dr Harold Norrie; the other, the Franciscan friars at “Maryfields”, particularly Fr Bernard Nolan OFM.
Norrie had seen outdoor Stations of the Cross in
At the same time, Fr Bernard Nolan was seeking a way to counterbalance the tendency in Australian society, to secularize Holy Week. “Maryfields” was discovered by one of Dr Norrie's group on a visit to a Franciscan novice at the newly opened novitiate.
At the Sixth Station: Veronica wipes the face of Jesus
As we noted already, this Station originated from the meditations of saintly men and women on the Passion of Jesus. You will notice that the most touching, most compassionate Stations often derive from the piety of Christian people over a long period of time.
was a popular devotion in
At the Seventh Station: Jesus falls the second time
of the present Stations derive directly from a widespread European veneration
of seven or more
From 1936 to 1988, the friars hosted the Stations of the Cross every Good Friday.
At the Eighth Station: Jesus speaks to the women of Jerusalem
of these Stations, including this one, are based on the gospel texts that
describe the way that Jesus took to
Until 1963, the railway ran from Campbelltown to Camden, and here at “Maryfields” there was a stop called Rudds Gate which was later renamed Maryfields when it was lengthened and strengthened to accommodate the crowds on Good Friday. One year, the platform collapsed because of the weight of the crowd. You will notice a palm-lined path which leads up to the site of the old Maryfields station, now long gone to make room for the widened Narellan Road.
At the Ninth Station: Jesus falls the third time
While the veneration of the falls of Jesus and the devotion of sorrowful processions were popular in Europe, yet another practice developed, namely, veneration of the stops that Jesus made on his way to Calvary. These stations commenced in some places with Jesus saying farewell to his mother, in other places they began with the Last Supper, or in the Garden of Gethsemane, or at the palace of Pilate.
Way of the Cross as we have it is therefore the product of a long evolution of
popular piety in Europe over a period of a thousand years, and transported to Jerusalem
by European pilgrims. In the Seventeenth Century, the Franciscan adapted their
visits to the Holy Places connected with the suffering and death of Jesus to
Artists and manufacturers of statuary were consulted about the best material to be used and designs were chosen. A set of three-dimensional terra cotta stations was ordered from France at a total cost of 3,000 pounds. Catholic families contributed to the cost and these donors are recorded on the back of the pedestals.
At the Tenth Station: Jesus is stripped
Many of the faithful in every country had a great desire to make the pilgrimage to Jerusalem, but relatively few could make it. Since the end of the Fifteenth Century, “spiritual pilgrimages” to Jerusalem became popular and people at home were assured that they enjoyed the same spiritual advantages as those who actually reached Jerusalem.
statues are placed on brick pedestals (rendered to look like stones), high
enough to be seen above a crowd. On each
alternate pedestal there is a cast cement plaque of the Paschal Lamb and
another showing a chalice with grapes and wheat. The Paschal Lamb is a symbol of Christ, the
Lamb of God, slain for us. The symbols of grapes and wheat represent the
Eucharist, the Body and Blood of Christ, the fruit of his saving death on
At the Eleventh Station: Jesus is nailed to the cross
Since the Seventeenth Century, the fourteen Stations of the Cross as we know them had been reproduced in Franciscan churches throughout Spain, from where it spread through Sardinia, then through Italy. Early in the Eighteenth Century, it spread to churches outside the Franciscan Order, largely due to the preaching of the Franciscan friar St Leonard of Port Maurice, who died in 1751, a year after he had erected the Stations of the Cross in the Colosseum in Rome, at the request of Benedict XIV.
Today, the Stations of the Cross have been erected in practically every Catholic church throughout the world. They have been erected also in the open air in many sanctuaries, as here at “Maryfields”.
On the second occasion, Good Friday 1937, a crowd of 20,000 attended the Stations. His Excellency, the Apostolic Delegate, Archbishop Panico gave an address and pronounced the Blessing. Every year, except during World War II, thousands of people traveled by special trains, buses and cars from Wollongong, Port Kembla, Corrimal, Bulli and from around Sydney.
Each Good Friday up until the 1988, crowds of over 10,000 and up to 37,000, came regularly to attend the Stations of the Cross. Gradually the numbers dwindled owing to several factors: (1) the convenient train service to Maryfields ended in 1963 with the building of the new Narellan Road; (2) finding sufficient space for the hundreds of cars proved a problem; and (3) in 1983, the Franciscan novitiate moved to Victoria, which meant that the burden of preparing the grounds for the Stations of the Cross and cleaning up after the event, fell on the few friars who remained. In 1990, after the Stations had been cancelled for the previous two years because of bad weather, the Stations were no longer held on Good Friday.
At the Twelfth Station: Jesus dies on the cross
In 1975, Pope John Paul II introduced a Way of the Cross that is based totally on the gospel accounts of the suffering and death of Jesus. He replaced those Stations that had developed in Europe out of prayerful meditation without a scriptural basis, namely, the three falls of Jesus under his cross, Jesus meets his mother, and Veronica wipes the face of Jesus.
This set of Stations is more appropriate for ecumenical services, where all Christians join in making the Way of the Cross, since we all share the same gospel accounts of the suffering and death of Jesus. The Pope gave only the titles of the Stations, with no set gospel texts or prayers.
The Twelfth Station is situated on a large man-made mound. Beneath it lies a spacious vault, which first was planned as a burial place for the friars, but this idea was later abandoned.
At the Thirteenth Station: Jesus is taken down from the cross
The Scriptural Way of the Cross is similar to the traditional Way of the
Cross, except that there are three stations before “Jesus before Pilate”.
They are: “The Last Supper”, “The
At the Fourteenth Station: Jesus is buried
How do we make the Way of the Cross? We begin by recollecting our minds and situating ourselves in the gospel scene of Jesus at the Last Supper (if we are following the Scriptural Way of the Cross) or of Jesus before Pilate. As we proceed through the fourteen Stations, we stand in front of the representation of the scene. We recall that Jesus, the Risen Lord, is present among us and accompanies us while we remember his last hours before his death.
At each Station, we read or listen to a relevant passage from the gospel or other sacred Scripture. We speak to Jesus by joining others in a common prayer, and by praying silently.
We process from station to station, singing appropriate hymns, or in silent reflection. We are moved to compassion for Jesus and for all who suffer, to admiration of his forgiving his enemies, to compunction for our poor following of him, to imitation of his patience, to thanksgiving for what he did for us, to hope and trust in his power to save us, to love for God who gave him to us as our brother and Saviour.
In 2000, a year of Jubilee in the Catholic Church, the friars of “Maryfields”
Friary, which, together with “
hold the Stations on other occasions, for instance, on the Sunday closest to 2 November,
when we remember our deceased friars and nuns, relatives and friends. Groups are always welcome. We request
that they ring the Friary first.