The Balcony Of Pilate.
Judas In Remorse.
Finally, the climax of the persecution is reached when one of the soldiers proposes to add to the prisoner's regal aspect by crowning him with thorns. The crown is quickly plaited, and amid shouts of derision is placed on his pallid brow.
Pressing The Thorns Into The Flesh.
On The Way To Calvary.
Then, in order not to wound their own hands, four of them take sticks and, using them as levers, press the thorns down into the bleeding flesh. At this moment there is hardly a man in the audience who does not long to leap upon the stage and rescue Maier from such torture, while the excited, breathless look upon the peasants' faces indicates how deeply they are moved by all this realism.
Crowned With Thorns.
One of the most impressive scenes in the great tragedy is that of the multitude accompanying the Christ to his crucifixion. The crowd, as usual, numbers hundreds of people. Most of them mock the Saviour with cruel taunts and fill the air with jeering cries. In their midst we see the doomed man moving slowly, with difficulty dragging his heavy cross. As he passes one of the houses, there is enacted the episode of the Wandering Jew. A man appears, who tells the sufferer to move on and not disgrace his house by lingering before it. Maier turns and fixes on the man one long, reproachful look. It is enough. The haunted wretch turns and disappears, destined henceforth, according to tradition, to find no more rest on earth, - not even that of the grave.
The movement of the cortege is painfully slow, owing to the extreme weakness of the condemned, who, at last, utterly exhausted, totters, and, borne down by the cross, falls heavily to the ground twice. On each occasion, however, he is goaded up and onward by the soldiers, who have no mercy on his weakness. The Roman centurion alone seems more humane. He offers him a flagon of water, saying: "Here, drink and refresh thyself."
The weary sufferer drinks, and attempts to rise, but cannot do so. Meawhile, down the street at the left of the stage, have been advancing Mary, the Mother of Jesus, Mary Magdalene, and John the disciple. They do not know yet of the condemnation of Jesus; but alarmed by their own fears and the increasing tumult, they approach the procession. A thrilling moment ensues when Mary recognizes in the exhausted man - her son. With a piercing cry she falls into the arms of Mary Magdalene, exclaiming: "Oh, my God, it is my son, my Jesus!"
Descent From The Cross. (Rubens)
Mary Recognizes Her Son.
A few minutes later, when the crowd has disappeared, and while the Chorus (this time robed in black) are singing their sad chant, we hear behind the curtain the heavy blows of a hammer, and shudder at the thought of what these ominous sounds foretell.
Another moment and the curtain rises to reveal the scene of Calvary. The crosses of the two thieves are erect on either side, the malefactors being simply bound to them with ropes, no pretense of crucifixion being made in their case. In the centre, the cross of Jesus lies at first prostrate. The soldiers are on the point of lifting it; but there is an instant's delay; for the priests have read the inscription sent by Pilate to decorate the cross, and are enraged at it. They will not have it so, and send the messenger back to the Roman Governor insisting that the legend shall not read "This is Jesus the King of the Jews," but rather "This is Jesus who said, 'I am the King of the Jews.'"