Ludovico Brea, Pieta,
Monaco, 1500

Fourth Station (The Voice of a Child)

They say this is His Mother,
the people aged and tall.
Who stands upon the roadway
rejected by them all;
her eyes are on the crosses.
Oh, why am I so small!

The heavy wood is pressing
the flesh that is her Son.
No word from her is wanted
whose cloak with dust is spun;
she may not cry in anguish.
Weep, mothers, gazing on!

His searching eyes have found you
and sent their love to you;
but now the hill up yonder
demands His life anew.
On tip-toe I was standing;
I saw your hand ascending
to bid a last adieu.

Ruth Schaumann
Translated from the German: William Brell
M. Thérèse. I Sing of a Maiden: The Mary Book of Verse.
New York: Macmillan, 1947.


Crucifixion, Psalter,
Province of Breman, 1503
Fourth Station (He Meets His Mother)

This afternoon in loud Jerusalem
They meet and part once more; no touch nor kiss
Can ease their anguish; while the mockers hiss:
And he's the fool who thought his streaming hem
Could cure the woman. See the two of them,
The son and wife of Joseph come to this.
Two hearts cry out - abyss unto abyss,
And Jesse's flower is cut from Jesse's stem.

Perhaps she thinks of Nain - of all the land.
Where wonders blossomed as He walked three years;
Of Jairus, Lazarus, the withered hand,
Of flowing mercies and of drying tears;
And still she knows her bitter place and part,
He will not heal her withered, widowed heart.

William Donaghy
M. Thérèse. I Sing of a Maiden: the Mary book of verse.
New York: Macmillan, 1947.


Jorg Syrlin, Crucifixion,
Germany, 1509

Thirteenth Station (He Is Taken From the Cross)

Now you may have Him, Mary, they are done,
The shepherd stricken lies; His little flock
Had fled before the crowing of the cock;
Now Caiphas is happy; he has won;
He does not heed the frightened crowds that run,
Jerusalem is shaken; shock on shock
Upheave the temple sanctum, rive the rock;
Now you may have the Thing that was your Son.

He cannot hear you, darling, He is dead.
Come, now, and we will hide Him from their sight;
He cannot feel your kisses on His head.
See - Nicodemus waits no more for night.
Look - he and John and Joseph stand in grief
And look to you for refuge and relief.

William Donaghy
M. Thérèse. I Sing of a Maiden: the Mary book of verse.
New York: Macmillan, 1947.


Vorlagen Hans Holbeins, Christus am Kreuze, Germany, 1620

To Mary: At the Thirteenth Station

You are the priest tonight:
The paten of your lap holds sacrifice.
You are the priest tonight,
Offering Peace and its price.
Star candles burn palely bright;
John is your faithful acolyte.
You are the priest tonight.

Raymond Roseliep
M. Thérèse. I Sing of a Maiden: The Mary Book of Verse.
New York: Macmillan, 1947.


Our Lady on Calvary

So like a queen she moves
among the rabble.
The shadow of the cross
He bears falls upon her
through the dim day's glow.
Wrapped in blue, calm,
with stately tread
she follows close,
close - so very close
she feels the terrible heat
of His tortured heart
upon her own.
Her shoulders shrink
beneath her gown
as He stumbles and falls
and the tree sinks deep
in open wounds.
But no sign of pain
mirrors in her cold
still face;
No gasping cry parts
her carved, white lips.
He is silent.
So is she.
But from the shaded veil
her eyes look out
and cry the lie
of her unbowed head;
and buried deep
in her mantle folds
her fingers hurt
themselves
in agony.

Lady and Mother
if only she could weep!
But no, she is a queen,
and queens are brave
and full of strength,
Even a Mother-Queen.
Her Mother's heart
aches and swells
in an unbent breast
to lay that bloody head,
its crown of crimson thorns removed,
against its pillowed softness,
to soothe those burning eyes
with moist, light kisses;
to fold those hands in a long caress

Crucifixion, wooden carving,
Germany, 1700's


against her cheeks
and pretend He is again
her little child
hurt in play
and comforted to sleep
in her arms.
But He is a Man,
a King
with a task to do
for truth
and all that men will claim
dear and just and beautiful
in the days to be
and through
eternity.

She must see Him through
His mission well done,
Ever Queen and Mother of God.

Sr. Michael Marie
Sr. M. Thérèse. I Sing of A Maiden: The Mary Book of Verse.
New York: Macmillan, 1947.


Accused of Adultery

the woman brought before My Son
accused of adultery

was me

... could have been me, they ringed
with their stony eyes and
hardened hearts
fingers itching, bodies aching
to be next, too late to be the first

to cast a stone before the One
Who would know
what it's like

to bear the Last Straw (Light

as a Cross) if Joseph
hadn't stepped forward,

which is what
My Son
probably wrote in the sand, in
Belshazzar font, those oh so many
years ago

"Where is the Man?" Carl Winderl.
This poem was first published in First Things, February 1999, 26.
Used here with permission of the poet.


Pieta
by R.S. Thomas

Always the same hills
Crown the horizon,
Remote witnesses
Of the still scene
And in the foreground
The tall Cross,
Sombre, untenanted,
Aches for the Body
That is back in the cradle
of a maid's arms.


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