News: Exhibition: The Way of The Cross


Wednesday 14th February 2018 until Friday 30th March 2018

Arnold Daghani, (1909-1985), was a survivor of the Holocaust, during which he was sent, with his wife, to a slave labour camp in his native Romania. There he witnessed many of the horrors of Nazi brutality. Philip Rawson has written of Daghani, ‘despite what he endured as a Jew in Romania and in an extermination camp under the Nazis, his work is in no way obsessive or embittered’.

Daghani was a Jewish artist who was fascinated by Christian iconography. His powerful set of ‘Stations of the Cross’ prompts reflection and dialogue on the nature and person of Jesus, the Cross as sign of hope or oppression and contemporary Christian-Jewish relations.

He was not the only Jewish artist to be intrigued by Christian iconography. That fascination, which dates back to the late nineteenth century, can be set in a wider cultural context, focussing on the image of Jesus as the archetypal – and perhaps necessarily controversial – symbol of Jewish suffering during the Holocaust. This can be pursued further in Monica Bohm-Duchen’s Art and the Second World War and Arnold Daghani.


The Christian devotion of Stations of the Cross has its roots in the practice of pilgrims visiting the Holy Land many centuries ago. Whilst in Jerusalem they would walk the Way of the Cross, the Via Dolorosa, moving through the city from Pilate’s headquarters to Calvary itself.

The Stations, places to pause, were then replicated in churches to allow those unable to travel to Jerusalem to participate in the recollection of Jesus’ death. For Christians the Via Dolorosa is not just an historical memory, it is an active remembering and making present of the sufferings of Jesus on his journey to crucifixion and burial.


The Cross is problematic for many Jewish people. Rather than being the sign of hope that Christians see, it can be seen as an emblem of persecution and triumphalism. Careless and malicious characterisations of Jewish people have led Christians to have to repent for Christian inspired anti-Semitism in Europe over many centuries. This was most notably led by Pope John Paul II in the Millennium Jubilee.

So Daghani’s work is all the more extraordinary in that it engages with Jesus, himself a Jew, and the Christian tradition that has been so oppressive to Jews down the centuries. The following texts and image may aid us in opening up our own interpretation of these images. 

Added Monday 12th February 2018