My Visit To The Shrine Of Christ’s Passion.
Once upon a time, in St. John, Indiana, thirty acres of beautifully landscaped property became the non-profit site of The Shrine of Christ’s Passion.
People of all faiths flock to this interactive Prayer Trail to experience the life of Jesus Christ from the Last Supper through His Ascension.
I first learned of this devotional journey from a friend who had visited several years ago with her church group. When she showed me pictures from her trip, I was mesmerized by the life-size bronze sculptures and made a mental note for a future trip adventure.
All 40 figures were designed by artist, Mickey Wells. He sculpts, molds and casts all sculptures himself at his foundry, Southwest Bronze Studio, in Amarillo, Texas. In 1994, he submitted a bid for the commission of 40 life-size figures, depicting the stations of the cross, for the shrine project.
After waiting 6 months, Mr. Wells finally heard he had been awarded the top prize beating out a well-known Colorado artist, who had previously worked on pieces for the Vatican.
The Shrine took 7 years to build.
Last year, between 150,000 and 200,000 people flocked to the shrine, about 8,000 of them on Good Friday. It is open 361 days a week and does not charge admission.
Upon entering the garden and patio area, a volunteer encouraged us to start with a short walk to view Moses and the Ten Commandments, in what they consider the most realistic depiction of Mount Sinai. It is a shoot-off path that you must retrace your steps to begin the 1/2 mile Prayer Trail and well worth the extra distance.
As you stroll the meandering path, you are serenaded with original music, paired perfectly with each station, along with a prompt button to hear the descriptive meditations for each scene.
Let the trail walk begin ……………
The Last Supper
Agony in the s Garden
Jesus is Condemned to Death.
Jesus Accepts His Cross
Jesus Falls the First Time
Jesus Meets His Sorrowful Mother
Simon of Cyrene Helps Jesus Carry His Cross
Veronica Wipes the Face of Jesus
Jesus Falls a Second Time
Jesus Speaks to the Women of Jerusalem
Jesus Falls a Third Time
When we approached the next sculpture I, inadvertently, found myself closely examining the body, touching the marks on His chest and studying the face of Jesus. I stood right in front of His face and just took a few moments to stare into the bronze eyes. I don’t understand what happened at this point but, without warning, tears started flowing down my cheeks.
Jesus is Stripped of His Garments
It was quite startling for me to experience a feeling of peace inside, accompanied by a gentle disturbance outside, free from my usual blusterous tears. Still today, weeks later, I’m perplexed by my reaction.
Jesus is Nailed to the Cross
Jesus Dies on the Cross
Jesus is Taken Down from the Cross
Jesus is Laid in the Tomb
In this picture, Joseph and Nicodemus carry Jesus to the open tomb, behind them. I took pictures of the tomb but I could not capture the feeling, and impact, that experiencing it in person had on me.
Ascension Into Heaven
After viewing the last station, Poo and I silently walked hand in hand, back to the entrance, retracing our steps past the first part of the trail. I think the experience left me feeling a bit overwhelmed and unprepared.
The walk is not very long and on a flat path but, for those who are unable to make the trek, a guided tour with a golf cart can be prearranged.
Although this could easily be finished in less time, it took Poo and I about 70 minutes to complete the trail as we were in no hurry and wanted to fully embraced the experience.
Admission is free, but there is a donation box if you would like to support their organization. All proceeds from the gift shop, as well, support the effort.
I purchased a beautiful, and affordable, framed picture of The Last Supper which reminded me of the one that hung in our kitchen when I was growing up.
“Where lives are changed one soul at a time.” – The Shrine of Christ’s Passion
“God Bless.” – Bob Leffers