Twelfth Station

Jesus dies on the cross

From the Gospel according to Luke (23:44-47)

It was now about noon, and darkness came over the whole land until three in the afternoon, while the sun’s light failed; and the curtain of the temple was torn in two. Then Jesus, crying with a loud voice, said, “Father into your hands I commend my spirit.” Having said this, he breathed his last. When the centurion saw what had taken place, he praised God and said, “Certainly this man was innocent.”

1992 073 013 V0001George Tooker (American, 1920–2011), Drawings for “The Stations of the Cross,” 1984, Pencil on tracing paper. Snite Museum of Art, University of Notre Dame. Gift of the artist. 1992.073.013


Death—it feels abundantly present in our world today. Suffering, too. As a Catholic, I turn so often to the Lord for guidance and help. There is faith in his power and presence—so much so I often forget that there was a point when He was powerless and His human presence was extinguished. I forget His was a very painful, physical death.   

As a person of faith, spiritually, and as an art historian, professionally, there are many times when I witness images of the crucified Christ in churches, chapels, museums, even classrooms and I am little forgetful, even numb, to the physicality and brutality of His death. Then, there are moments like now when I am reminded of the truth. Pain, agony, exhaustion, release. We are left alone. 

Death is a certainty for humans. We work hard to make the passing as painless as possible in society today, but no one could do that for Christ. The moment of His death on the cross is the beginning of another kind of pain—a void until His miraculous Resurrection.  The distance between Good Friday and Easter morning can be vast. 

– Joseph Becherer, Director of the Snite Museum of Art and Curator of Sculpture

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