An Explanation Of The Origin Of These Stations
By FR. Nevin Ford
My name is Father Nevin Ford. I was ordained a Priest in 1954. My first assignment, in 1955, was to be a teacher at our minor seminary, next door. Saint Anthony Seminary is located behind the Old Mission. Soon after my arrival it was decided to have large mosaics, to be made in Italy, to be installed in the side altars of our chapel.
The way large mosaics are done is for an artist to draw his design out; then reverse the drawing, as is done these days on a computer. Then enlarge the drawing onto heavy duty paper. The artists then proceed to paste individual tile pieces onto the paper with water soluble paste. The pattern is then cut into manageable sizes put into a case and shipped to the buyer.
This was done in the case of our mosaics but sea water got into the hold of the ship that carried the mosaic patterns. When the cases were opened the contents were just wads of paper, paste and unorganized pieces of byzantine mosaic tile. The mosaics had been insured and were re-done but we were left with a lot of unusable tile.
This happenstance is what I would call “an act of God”! But I found a use for this “worthless tile”. I washed the tile and sorted it out into piles of similar hues, tints and shades. For the next three years, 1960 to 1963, I spent almost all my free time designing and making the stations you now see at the Old Mission.
During that same period of time I also, as Vice Prefect of Discipline, supervised the hauling of stones from the creek which borders the back of the Seminar property (permission was not required in those days). The actual hauling was done by some seminarians on Wednesday afternoons. It was kind of a “reward” for “lapses” in their conduct. I used the stones thus gathered to build bases for the fourteen stations. They have lasted for about 45 years now (2008). So they should last at least that long in their new location at Old Mission Santa Barbara.
The stations were transferred from the Seminary to the Mission grounds in 2003. They were initially situated on the Seminary grounds along the Garden Street border of that institution. They were installed at the Old Mission in 2004. The further development was then turned over to a Parish Commission who raised funds to complete the project. The stations were blessed on July 11, 2008.
We hope that they will be used by Parishioners’, visitors and attendees at retreats for years to come.