A Story of Two Holy Week Commemorations

As churches celebrate the solemn events of Christ’s passion, death and resurrection during Holy Week and on Easter Sunday, commemorations range from the simple to the elaborate.

In Colorado's San Luis Valley, the small town of San Luis (which is a couple of hours from Pueblo) has an outdoors Stations of the Cross. This Way of the Cross goes along a nearly mile-long trail leading up to the top of a mesa.

People come to this Stations of the Cross Shrine all year. The magnificent sculptures are done by internationally known sculptor Huberto Maestas, himself a San Luis native. The Vatican Museums have copies of these stations. The full story is here.

Of course, making these Stations of the Cross takes on added meaning during Holy Week. At the top of the mesa, the faithful pray at All Saints Shrine, which is visible for miles from this height.

The views from the top look to the Sangre de Cristo Mountains eastward and down to the town’s Catholic church, Sangre de Cristo (Blood of Christ). Everywhere on this Lenten act or prayer and penitence, the view brinigs to mind the Passion of Christ.

People from the valley communities also perform re-enactments during Holy Week, such the encounter of Jesus with Mary as he walks to his crucifixion.

Rick Vigil, a native of the San Luis Valley, made a short film (available on DVD) of some of the events for his Down to Earth Media project, and a segment of it can be seen hereSpeaking in the film are longtime pastor in the area, Father Pat Valdez, the sculptor and a number of other people. They give insights into the sense of reverence these people have.


Meanwhile, in Chicago, St. John Cantius rose from being nearly closed several years ago to become an exceptionally thriving parish in the inner city that draws parishioners from miles around. In the exceptional basilica-like church, the Holy Week and pascal mysteries unfold in all their sacred splendor.

Father Joshua Caswell of the Canons Regular of St. John Cantius is quite a photographer of sacred art and ceremonies, and in 175 photos or so, he has captured the past events of Holy Week and Easter as they unfold at the church. They appear on the parish website here.

The photos are inspiring in so many ways, from the reverence of the servers and the faithfulness of the people to the beauty of close-ups, like the Crucifixion scene on the base of a beautiful chalice.

A bonus on the site is a time-lapse video of the transformation of the altar area from the starkness of Good Friday to the glory of Easter Sunday.

Whether in St. Luis, Colo., or Chicago and whether simple or elaborate, the meaning of Holy Week comes through clearly in these communities.

Have a blessed Holy Week!