Grad student creates Stations of the Cross with migration theme

By Joyce Duriga | Editor
Wednesday, February 28, 2024

The first and second stations in “The Passion of the Monarca Migante.” (Photo by Juan Garcia)

When Jacqueline Romo was considering what to do for her senior thesis project at Dominican University in 2019, she drew on her personal and faith journeys for inspiration and created “The Passion of the Monarca Migrante,” which uses the monarch butterfly and the plight of migrants to depict the Stations of the Cross.

In her linocut artwork, the monarch butterfly portrays Jesus, and the themes of each station center around the experiences of migrants who travel to the United States looking for a better life. As an immigrant, Romo said, she closely relates to the topic.

Knowing her thesis would open in the gallery on Palm Sunday, doing a version of the Stations of the Cross seemed fitting, said Romo, who is a graduate student and Romero Scholar at Catholic Theological Union in Hyde Park and campus minister at Cristo Rey Jesuit High School in Pilsen.

She grew up participating in the Via Crucis at her parish, now Mother of the Americas, in Little Village each Lent, so the devotion was important to her.

“I thought, ‘What better way to tell the story of Christ and his Passion, but also tell the story of the migrants in the United States?” Romo said.

Monarch butterflies migrate each year from Mexico through the United States looking for milkweed, to lay their eggs, she said.

“It’s a very interesting pattern similar to migrants,” she said. “They travel thousands of miles looking for sustenance. It could be food. It could be education. It could be political freedom. It’s just for survival, and that’s exactly what the butterfly does.”

All of it is to ensure the survival of the next generation, she said.

“That’s the reason why people move from one place to another — that’s why everyone who is in the U.S. has that same story, that background, because all of us come from different places, even Native Americans,” she said. “Everyone has a migration history.”

Each station weaves Jesus’ journey with a similar experience to that of migrants. For example, in the first station, in which Jesus is condemned to death, the butterfly faces barbed wire similar to a prison. In the fourth station, in which Jesus meets Mary, Romo depicts the butterfly meeting Our Lady of Guadalupe. 

One copy of her stations is outside the chapel at Dominican University, and another is outside of an abbey chapel in New Mexico. Romo lends out the third set to groups who want to use them for retreats or conferences.

Migrants anywhere in the world can relate to the Stations of the Cross, she said.

“Taking on a journey that you know is going to be painful, in the sense that it could be physically painful — we see it in migrants all over the world who take on these painful journeys, not just physically in that they are mostly dangerous journeys, but painful in a very emotional and psychological way, in saying good-bye, parting ways with a place that was home, looking for something.”

Christ lived through a similar kind of pain in his journey to the cross, and he took on that journey knowing what would happen out of love for all of us, Romo said.

“That’s exactly what migrants do. They move for the love of their family,” Romo said.

Art in any form can help people express their faith, she said.

“Those talents come directly from God, so that those are gifts God gives you,” she said. “In the same way, he reveals himself in those gifts when you share them and when you expose them. To me, that’s where the arts make a lot of sense in our faith and being open to allow God to reveal himself in the arts because then people can reflect in a different way where maybe someone didn’t think of the stations of the cross as appealing or interesting to pray about, but all of a sudden there is an art piece that maybe calls them to think about things a little deeper.”

When she shares “The Passion of the Monarca Migrante,” people offer their responses to it and she learns more about her piece from their insights.

“It’s one of those things where people catch different moments of revelation that God reveals to them a specific message or some kind of connection that only sharing it with the community makes sense,” Romo said.

While Romo said she does not plan to take up art full-time, she does intend to continue using art herself and encouraging others to use art when she enters ministry following graduation from Catholic Theological Union.

“I feel like wherever I go in ministry, in my church, in my family life, I will definitely always be incorporating art,” she said.

To learn more about “The Passion of the Monarca Migrante” or to purchase digital prints, visit



  • lent
  • art
  • migrants
  • stations of the cross

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