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Vatican to hold art contest for new Stations of the Cross

Stations of the Cross

Renata Sedmakova | Shutterstock

J-P Mauro - published on 12/18/23

The competition is free to enter; an artist will be selected to paint new renditions of all 14 Stations of the Cross to be displayed in St. Peter's for Lent 2026.

The Vatican is holding a contest to select an artist to complete a new set of paintings depicting the 14 stations of the Via Crucis, or the Stations of the Cross. Along with a cash prize, the winning artist’s works will be displayed at St. Peter’s Basilica during Lent 2026. 

Contest information supplied on the official website of St. Peter’s Basilica begins by instructing participants that the subject of the paintings will be the traditional 14 Stations of the Cross. The website lists these as: 

Jesus is condemned to death
Jesus is burdened with the cross
Jesus falls for the first time
Jesus meets his Mother
Jesus is helped to carry the cross by Simon of Cyrene
Veronica wipes the face of Jesus
Jesus falls for the second time
Jesus meets the women of Jerusalem
Jesus falls for the third time
Jesus is stripped of his clothes
Jesus is nailed to the cross
Jesus dies on the cross
Jesus is taken down from the cross
Jesus is placed in the tomb

The announcement notes that artists are free to choose their preferred execution technique and artistic style in their depictions of the subjects, but it is required that the works of art be completed in paint. Participation in the contest is free and open for submissions from candidates from all nations, but they must be at least 18 years old to enter the competition. 

Participants must submit an application that will be posted on the St. Peter’s Basilica website on January 8, 2024, with the application period lasting until January 31. Applications must include a short Curriculum Vitae (a resume) in Italian or English, along with a brief portfolio with pictures of the artists’ previous works (no more than 10). 

Applications will be considered by a commission to be established and chaired by the Fabbrica di San Pietro – the group responsible for the maintenance and conservation of the basilica. The commission will select candidates for the competition from the applications and will announce the competitors on March 15, 2024

Once selected for the competition, contestants must submit a 50×50 cm framed sketch of station 12 (Jesus dies on the cross) and a second sketch (of the same size) of a different Station of the Cross of their choosing. These sketches must be submitted by July 15, at which time the commission will examine entries to select a winner, to be announced September 30, 2024. 

The selected artist will be tasked with painting all 14 Stations of the Cross, for which they will be compensated with 120,000 euros (~$130,000). The 14 paintings will be on display at St. Peter’s Basilica on February 18, 2026, and will remain up for at least the duration of Lent. 

There’s still plenty of time to start working out your sketches before the application period begins on January 8. Visit the St. Peter’s Basilica website to learn more about this exciting new competition. 

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