The Gospels say very little about the man who carried the cross to Golgotha with Jesus. In fact, only one sentence is dedicated to him in three gospels. The fourth gospel does not mention him at all.
All we know of Simon from the Scriptures is that he was native to Cyrene—a large city in northern Africa—and had sons named Alexander and Rufus.
We learn more about him from one of the Church’s modern mystics and visionaries: Blessed Anne Catherine Emmerich. Blessed Anne received visions of the Blessed Mother’s life and the Passion.
She begins thus concerning Simon:
At this moment Simon of Cyrene, a pagan, happened to pass by, accompanied by his three children. He was a gardener, just returning home after working in a garden near the eastern wall of the city, and carrying a bundle of lopped branches.
Blessed Anne goes on to explain that the Romans chose him to help Jesus because he was pagan. They didn’t want to risk offending any of the Jews by making them help, but a pagan couldn’t refuse.
Simon was disgusted with Jesus’ condition and tried to refuse. How could they expect him—an honorable man—to walk with and assist a dirty, mutilated criminal? The Romans, however, forced him to take up the cross.
Then everything changed.
Simon had not carried the cross after Jesus any length of time before he felt his heart deeply touched by grace.
That is the last we hear of Simon himself, but Blessed Anne’s words leave us with the hope—and expectation—that he became a Christian. It is likely that he did. After all, it is believed that his sons became well-known Christians, hence St. Mark mentioned them by name.
Remind yourself to carry your cross with joy with our Olive Wood Pocket Cross. Carved from beautiful olive wood from the Holy Land, this cross lays softly in your palm as a quiet memento of the Cross that Simon the Cyrenian helped to carry. Available today at The Catholic Company!
Here at Get Fed, we pray for God’s abundant blessings upon you and your family as we commemorate the sacred hours of His Passion and death, and enter this Sunday into the joy of His Resurrection!