According to Chicago’s CBS-2, “The Shrine of Christ’s Passion” is a “recreation of the Holy Land” built by Shirley and Frank Shilling in an Indiana cornfield. With more than 40 life-size statues depicting what the site calls the “traditional” Stations of the Cross. In fact, News2 tells us “No detail has been left out,” which is not really true, but the Shillings made up for it by adding a few of their own, like the aborted fetus. But I’ll get to that.
The Stations appear in most Catholic churches and many other Christian churches, but at OO scale (that is, the size of a plaque on the wall or a stained glass window), not life-sized. I mean, these are BIG STATUES. God-sized statues for a man-sized faith. This is visitor-participation devotion, here; visitors walk along with the Lord, like He walks along with you, right? Or, during that part where there’s only one pair of footsteps in the sand — where He carried you. Wasn’t that nice of Him?
Visitors can stand next to (statue) Christ as he gets blown off by (statue) Pontius Pilate. That’s The First Station. Later, take a hoof down the hill and find the tomb of Christ, complete with a discarded burial shroud that has surely never been anywhere near Turin. That’s not a station. Oh, and you can also plant your devotional tuckus in the folding metal chairs over in the Rec Hall, and kick back with Jesus, who got stood up by his disciples for the Last Supper. Been there, Jesus! That’s not a station either.
Yes, that’s right. The Last Supper features Christ sitting at an empty table, which I’m thinking would probably take the wind out of his sails when he makes the whole speech about how “No, seriously, they’re going to crucify me. You’re welcome.”
The About the Shrine page coughs up a few more details the Shillings added to make up for the no-Disciples thing:
* Each setting has a listening station featuring the voice of veteran broadcaster Bill Kurtis. Push the button to hear a description of the scene along with a corresponding prayer
* Background music plays throughout your journey on 180 speakers
* Over 1000 trees and bushes were planted on the site
* More than 3000 yards of stamped concrete were poured
* 80 semis of boulders were trucked in from central Wisconsin
* Parking for 75 cars and 8 tour buses
Yes, that’s Bill Kurtis from American Justice.
To those of you whose childhood Easter seasons didn’t stretch from Septuagesima to Pentecost, or who (gasp!) didn’t have Easter seasons at all, you may not give a damn that they’re using the sorta “free-form” Stations. The traditional form didn’t include either the Last Supper or the Resurrection. But, hey, whatever brings in the tourists. Just don’t add in any Wiccan Stations, or you’ll never be able to run for Senate in Rhode Island.
Anyway, when you visit whatever you do, don’t miss the statue of Jesus holding an aborted fetus. Incidentally, that’s not a station, either, but it must be serious because Jesus has tears in his eyes. Don’t we all, Lord? Don’t we all?