9. The Way of the Cross

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A mild wooded hill above the Vimperk hospital has a Way of the Cross winding in sharp bends on its slope, with a simple wooden cross at its top in the shade of spruce trees, not far from the town limits. The Vodník recreation area is a stone’s throw away, virtually connecting two different worlds: the world of the past, looking up to heaven and longing for God’s mercy, and the present world, self-absorbed, with a desire for entertainment.

The Way of the Cross is a term used in Catholic European countries for a symbolic manifestation of Jesus Christ’s suffering on his last journey from Pontius Pilate’s house to Mount Calvary in Jerusalem. A Way of the Cross was usually built in open landscape, leading up a hill, which was often referred to as Calvary. It had stations along the way, ranging in number from seven to fourteen.

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The Way of the Cross in Vimperk owes its existence to Johann Steinbrener. It was built in the 1870s and consecrated by Jan Filip Brunner, the first dean of Vimperk, in 1884.

Pious pilgrims used to walk along it until the end of WW II, but after the transfer of the German population in 1946, followed by the rise of Communism, the way became deserted and began to fall victim to the merciless ravages of time. It was not until 2001 that the whole way was restored, and now its fourteen stations, numbered wooden cabinets on top of slender columns of stone, once again portray the glorious mystery of early Christianity, calling to those with open ears and hearts a message about the existence of something that transcends us.