Stations of the Cross

The Stations of the Cross, (also called Via Crucis, Via Dolorosa or the Way of the Cross), is a devotion to the passion of Christ consisting of prayers and meditations on fourteen occurrences experienced by Christ on His way to the crucifixion and burial. Some of the stations are non-scriptural, owing their existance to Catholic tradition (e.g. the three falls). During the time of the crusades (1095-1270), it became popular for pilgrims in the Holy Land to walk in the footsteps of Jesus to Calvary.

It is speculated that the Stations of the Cross became a popular substitute pilgrimage throughout Europe after the Moslems recaptured the Holy Land (making pilgrimages there too dangerous). Devotional manuals about the Stations date from the 16th century although the actual origin of the devotion is uncertain. The popularity of the Stations of the Cross was fostered by the Franciscians, who obtained a special indulgence from Pope Innocent XI, in 1686, for those who performed the devotion. The Stations represented critical events from Scripture or tradition of Jesus’ journey to Calvary. Originally done only outdoors, the Stations were allowed inside churches in the mid-18th century. Eventually fixed at fourteen, (By Pope Clement XII in 1731) the Stations soon became a familiar feature in all Roman Catholic churches, and now grace the walls of many Anglican churches as well.



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