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Image © Hildesheim, St Godehard

Mark 14:37-42

Following Mark 14:37-42, Jesus returns to the disciples and finds them sleeping. He is saying ‘Peter, Simon, sleepest thou? Couldst thou not watch me one hour?’ The others stay asleep ‘for their eyes were heavy’. The chalice remains alone on the hill, a reminder of Christ’s solitary agony and an emotional balance to the frustration with his companions.

Christ carries a tau crozier, like a shepherd prodding his feckless flock: he reminds Peter ‘The spirit is ready but the flesh is weak’. He also says ‘For it is written, I will smite the shepherd and the sheep of the flock shall be scattered abroad’(Matthew 26:31).

The solitary struggle and lonely chalice, emphasised by two separate scenes, are particularly appropriate for contemplation by an anchoress. The eucharistic symbol of the cup is important here because it the following scene of the Last Supper is not one of communion but betrayal.

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