The Agony of Crucifixion

Agony of Crucifixion wood sculpture by A.Vonn Hartung for St. John's Catholic Church (Montville, Connecticut)
            The Agony of Crucifixion

From noon until three in the afternoon darkness came over all the land. About three in the afternoon Jesus cried out in a loud voice, “Eli, Eli, lema sabachthani?” (which means “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?” (Mt 27)

I carved this crucified Christ, “The Agony of Crucifixion” after an in-depth study of the book  A Doctor at Calvary by Pierre Barbet M.D.,  a forensic pathologist’s analysis of the Holy Shroud of Turin. It reveals a graphic account of Jesus’s suffering at the hands of the Romans. “A theory attributed to Pierre Barbet holds that, when the whole body weight was supported by the stretched arms, the typical cause of death was asphyxiation. He wrote that the condemned would have severe difficulty inhaling, due to hyper-expansion of the chest muscles and lungs. The condemned would therefore have to draw himself up by the arms, leading to exhaustion, or have his feet supported by tying or by a wood block. When no longer able to lift himself, the condemned would die within a few minutes.”

The main results of the study show in the carving the effects of asphyxiation symptoms where all the muscles of the body cramp up due to lack of oxygen and cause massive cramps resulting in agonizing death.

So precise was this macabre form of torture and death, that in the way the Romans hung the bodies to the cross they could determine how long it would take the victim to die.

 Msgr. Bronislaw Gadarowski commissioned this life-size wood sculpture for St. John’s Catholic Church in Montville, Connecticut. The artist carved it in linden wood (circa 1981)  

NOTE—I remember when I returned to the church a few days after it was installed; it had to be in maybe 1983. When I walked into the church there were at least five people on their knees looking up at the crucifix; they were Polish second generation faithful. A short time afterwards, the priest told me that they were thinking about taking it down and only putting it up during Lent because some parents said it scared their children! Two years later when I visited the church during Lent; there was a newly installed Priest—I think he was from Quebec. I told him about the incident with the Kids. He looked at me and said, “I sit underneath it. I worry it might fall on me.” So it has some provenance!

View video The Passion of our Lord

Ver video La Pasión de nuestro Señor

Two contemplative videos (English and Spanish versions) showing the Passion of our Lord Jesus Christ (his arrest, taking up of the cross, crucifixion, death and burial) through original paintings and wood sculptures by the artist A.Vonn Hartung, accompanied by meditative music.

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