Friday, July 18, 2008


IT is known as the greatest story ever told, and yesterday it came to Sydney, with passionate young Catholics re-enacting the final hours of Jesus's life, and Christ's ultimate victory over death, in detail both glorious and gory.

In a performance that significantly dampened the previously buoyant mood of World Youth Day, the broken figure of Christ, played by 27-year-old Alfio Stutio, stumbled barefoot and bleeding through a Sydney production of biblical proportions, over 13stations of the cross.

The Prince of Peace was tortured, lashed, mocked, stripped, crowned with thorns and then crucified in front of an audience of 100,000 people at Barangaroo, the old Sydney docksite, just as the sun began to set.

Winter sunshine of recent days had given way to strong and icy winds. Pilgrims who came to see the dramatic finale wrapped themselves in the flags of their nations, and huddled together for warmth. Christ's tormentors did not nail Jesus through the wrists, as happened in the Bible, but lashed him with leather straps to the large wooden cross as it lay prone on the ground.

The cross, and the man upon it, then rose slowly from the ground. Stutio's face was revealed as stained with dust, sweat, tears and blood, and his naked chest heaved. Many in the crowd fell to their knees and wept.


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