1963 Way of the cross for the "Maria ten hemelopnemingskerk" Nijmegen

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the first night 8 tears over J.
1 men to men 9 like a worm
2 under the yoke 10 undressed
3 fallen 11 on the cross
4 the child, the mother 12 enthrone
5 two are one 13 the mother, the son
6 the true face 14 the second and the third night
7 relapse broken free
Sebastian is incurably ill. Shattering news ! Only later do I hear that a cancer had been diagnosed no less than forty years ago, but now the fight has turned into a losing battle. Bas (Sebastian) has bought a flamboyant red hat to give colour to his last few days. We still see him regularly at university, as often as his illness allows. Business seems as usual. Bas has an extensive circle of acquaintances both inside and outside the Catholic University of Nijmegen.

When I came to work here in 1993 in the staff of the university board, among other things in support of the catholic identity, we soon got acquainted personally. Before that time I had known Bas from a distance as an amiable university rector showing both great determination and great respect for people's convictions in his mission to give substance to the university's particular character. Quite a frustrating battle for Bas, since there are many colleagues who are not persuaded by his tolerance to adopt the same open attitude regarding the interface between belief and worldview on the one hand, and science and its practice on the other. It must be a source of great satisfaction to Bas that in these very days more young people have come to feel attracted to a belief that is not compelling. Since 1995 I have been a member of the board of my parish. They have not been easy years. We are faced with a merger of two parishes necessitated by the declining number of churchgoers. To be able to survive as a religious community we have reached the conclusion that one of the two church buildings will have to go. It goes without saying that this is a cause of much sorrow for the people who were baptised there, or married there, or said goodbye there to their loved ones. The architect keeps fighting against the demolition of the church building he designed after the Second Vatican Council. All this stirs up a lot of publicity, and Ted Felen is getting seriously worried about what will happen to the Stations of the Calvary, he painted with such self-sacrifice and in such loneliness in the cold winter of 1963.

When Ted contacts us and asks for our co-operation to publish a book about his Stations of the Cross together with Bas van Iersel, I experience a sort of shock: surely this cannot be Bas! Bas and Ted turn out to have been friends for forty years. Many meetings are to follow. I am moved to see how much power and sustenance Bas derives from Jesus' Suffering and Resurrection. Although I myself have become involved in a serious disease, I have never before felt this profound realisation that I desire to be supported by a Providence that has experienced the same things I experience myself. We talk about eternal life. Bas points out that in the Old Testament the Resurrection is dis-cussed firstly in connection with martyrdom. He has us read the story of the seven Maccabean brothers. The essence is in the Resurrection. Impressed by Ted's interpretation of Jesus' Resurrection, Bas is even more impressed by Ted's painting 'The Rising Sun for You II'. Again a shock of recognition. For years I have been obsessed by the title 'First Rays of the New Rising Sun' on Jimi Hendrix' last album. Only recently have I come to understand that this refers to the ancient Egyptian belief in being born each day anew by the first rays of the sunlight. A dark and desperate night is followed by another new day of hope.

Kees de Lange, June 1999

Ted Felen's Calvary Photographs (c) Paul Bökkerink No photograph on this site may be multiplied and/or published in any form without prior written permission from the photographer. Translated by Lambert Konings