A Cross Both Old and New
All that We Have: The New ‘Old’ Cross for Good Friday
Published on April 12-13, 2014 in the Parish Bulletin of Saint Andrew Catholic Church, Harrodsburg KY
The ‘new’ Cross that our parish will use for the Veneration of the Holy Cross on the Good Friday Celebration of the Lord’s Passion is the old Cross that had stood by the old Church sign for the past 15 years.
It was built with six by six inch beams of treated lumber in 1999 by Deacon Richard L. Abbey and his sons, Jeremy, Kyle, and Jonathan. After it was taken down this past March, Deacon Abbey cut it down to its present size: the vertical beam is now 94 inches tall, the horizontal beam 48 inches long.
The figure of the Crucified Christ (called the corpus) on this Cross was hand-carved from batikuling (Elaeocarpus calomala), a wood native to the Philippines, by the studio of Romeo D. Lao in my hometown of Angeles City this past February. The sculptors who had fashioned it hail from Betis in Guagua, a locale in my native province of Pampanga that is famous for its woodcraft. They are known for their attention to detail, as evidenced in the soft eyelashes and the painted glass eyes of this image.
This new corpus is three feet tall and follows the design of the Black Nazarene, an iconic image revered for centuries by Filipino Catholics in the Minor Basilica in Quiapo, Manila. It features a dark-skinned Christ with the bloodied wounds on His hands, feet, and side. A gilded metal crown of thorns rests on His brown haired head. Three golden rays, called the tres potencias (three powers), also adorn His head, evoking the tria munera of Christ: His three-fold office as Priest, Prophet, and King. Although a white garment had been carved on the image, the traditional gold embroidered loincloth of deep red velvet has been tied around His waist with a tasseled yellow cincture.
Above the corpus is a piece of Philippine mahogany that is six inches tall and 15 inches wide. My father, Jose Manuel S. Zamora (born 1947), painted on it the titulus that Pilate had written in three languages (cf. Jn 19:19-20): Latin (Iesus Nazarenus Rex Iudaeorum), Greek (Ἰησοῦς ὁ Ναζωραῖος ὁ Bασιλεὺς τῶν Ἰουδαίων), and Hebrew. That inscription reads in English: Jesus of Nazareth, King of the Jews.
In memory of my beloved grandmother, Elpidia A. Soriano-Zamora (1918-2003), who had a great devotion to the Black Nazarene, and in honor of the many parishioners who have been generous to our parish, I had decided to give back a portion of the gifts that I had received from parishioners last Christmas to cover the expense of having this corpus made.
It is my hope that this Holy Cross, which to our parish is both old and new, will inspire in us the same intense devotion to the Crucified Christ that I have known growing up, that devotion which the Church specially calls us to display during Her liturgy on Good Friday.