“It is precisely because of the cross that I have hope in this world…When he dragged that cross through spit and mud Jesus showed us that God is full aware of the realities of life, the hardships, the doubt, the pain.” – found on belief.net
From the earliest days of the church, Christians have journeyed to Jerusalem to retrace Jesus’ steps has he carried his cross from Pilate’s house to Golgotha. This path is known as the Via Dolorosa (“Way of Sorrow”) and the Via Crucis (“Way of the Cross”) and quickly became well known and well traveled by those who follow Christ. By the Middle Ages, other cities began to create replicas of this Sacred Way (or “Via Sacra”). Christians who could not make the journey to Jerusalem to walk this path could make the journey in their own places of worship. The number of stations has varied, but by the 1700’s there were 14 stations that were traditionally recognized. You will often see these 14 stations depicted on the walls of Roman Catholic, Anglican, or churches. The Stations are most often practiced during Lent, especially on Fridays and during Holy Week.
The most common way to practice the Stations is to go to a church or other location that has them around the walls. Worshipers walk from station to station, often reading scripture and saying prayers. If you have ever driven through the Texas panhandle on I-40, there is a large cross along the interstate just east of Amarillo. At the base of that cross you will find the Stations of the Cross.
There are a variety of ways that Christians have depicted the Stations. The traditional version is based on scripture as well as tradition.
1. Jesus is Condemned to Death
2. Jesus Receives His Cross
3. Jesus Falls Under the Weight of the Cross for the First Time
4. Jesus Meets His Mother
5. Simon of Cyrene Helps Jesus Carry the Cross
6. The Face of Jesus is Wiped by Veronica
7. Jesus Falls a Second Time
8. The Women of Jerusalem Mourn for Our Lord
9. Jesus Falls a Third Time
10. Jesus is Stripped of His Garments
11. Jesus is Nailed to the Cross
12. Jesus Dies Upon the Cross
13. Jesus is Laid in the Arms of His Mother
14. Jesus is Laid in the Tomb
Another set of Stations based on scripture:
1. Jesus in the Garden of Gethsemane (Matthew 25:36-41)
2. Jesus betrayed by Judas (Mark 14: 43-46)
3. Jesus condemned by the Sanhedrin (Luke 22: 66-71)
4. Jesus denied by Peter (Matthew 26: 69-75)
5. Jesus condemned by the people (Mark 15: 1-5, 15)
6. Jesus crowned with thorns and clothed in purple. (John 19: 1-3)
7. Jesus carries the cross. (John 19: 6, 15-17)
8. Jesus assisted by Simon of Cyrene (Mark 15: 21)
9. Jesus meets the women of Jerusalem (Luke 23: 27-31)
10. Jesus is crucified. (Luke 23: 33-34)
11. Jesus speaks to the thief (Luke 23: 39-43)
12. Jesus speaks to his mother (John 19: 25-27)
13. Jesus dies on the cross (Luke 23: 44-46)
14. Jesus is buried. (Matthew 27: 57-60)
Some churches add a 15th Station celebrating the resurrection. But this is traditionally not to be observed during Lent.
“If you cannot contemplate high and heavenly things, take refuge in the Passion of Christ, and love to dwell within his Sacred Wounds. For if you devoutly seek the Wounds of Jesus and the precious marks of his Passion, you will find great strength in all troubles.” – Thomas a Kempis
We adore you, O Christ, and we bless you,
because by your holy cross,
you have redeemed the world.
Lord Jesus Christ,
take me along that holy way
you once took to your death,
Take my mind, my memory,
above all my reluctant heart,
and let me see what once you did
for love of me and all the world.
For more information about the Stations of the Cross, check out this website.