The Crucifixion

The Mural of the Cricifixion

Once the Mural of the Ascension had been completed, Stanley turned to the third mural. This was to depict the Crucifixion of Christ. He had a problem of scale with this mural because of the limited space he had to work with, so decided that an oblique design for the cross would be best.

Stanley chose slaves to crucify Christ in the painting, “after all, we don’t know the full details of who crucified Christ, merely they took him and crucified him”. The slaves in the painting wore only loincloths, and this was a direct reference to the prisoner’s own clothing. By painting slaves, Stanley inferred that the Japanese soldiers themselves were under orders when they carried out the many atrocities they were responsible for. Sometimes unwilling Indian Army POW were forced to carry out executions and torture for the Japanese. They, like the slaves, had to do what they were told.

The slave on the right is looking up compassionately at Christ on the cross as it is raised. He is feeling the real sorrow and regret of what he is being forced to do. As a Christian, Stanley was in this mural forgiving his captors for their mistreatment of POW. He once said that he was glad that he had been able to do that. He also recalled that the Japanese guards were very interested in this mural, coming regularly to watch its progress. He thought that they knew what it the Mural was about, even if they didn’t understand the words at the top of it, “Father forgive them, they know not what they do”. He also said that he had painted Jesus’ eyes closed as he felt that he had not the impertinence to look into eyes of Christ. The theme and design of this Mural were so powerful that when a small service was held in the chapel, the chaplain put his lectern immediately under it.