Stations of the Cross – Introduction

The Stations (or Way) of the Cross are a mini pilgrimage; a set of prayers and meditations which help us to remember and share in the Passion and Death of Jesus Christ. This meditation on the death of Our Lord is undertaken by individuals and groups throughout the whole year. However it is a particularly popular devotion during the season of Lent.

History

Station 5 from St. Bernadette's Church, RothwellStation V from St. Bernadette’s Church, Rothwell

During the early centuries of the church, Christians travelled to Jerusalem to walk in Jesus’ footsteps. Pilgrims travelling to the site of Christ’s crucifixion often walked one particular route (known from the 16th century as the Via Dolorosa).




Following the ‘Way of the Cross’ they would stop at regular intervals to pray and to remember key moments of Jesus’ suffering and crucifixion. During the Middle Ages, as pilgrimage to the Holy Land became difficult, imitation Ways of the Cross spread across Europe.

Station 14, in St. Nicholas Owen Church, Burton Latimer. By parishioner Graham Swift

Station XIV, in St. Nicholas Owen Church, Burton Latimer. By parishioner Graham Swift

The number of stations (scenes) marking Jesus’ journey to the Cross has varied considerably over the centuries. Starting as an outdoor devotion on roads leading to a church or shrine, by the end of the 17th century sets of images had found their way inside religious houses and churches. In 1731 Clement XII fixed the number at 14 and that has remained the custom since then, although the scenes and prayers continue to change. The addition of a 15th station, the Resurrection of the Lord, has grown in popularity during the twentieth century.


Praying the Stations of the Cross

Station 1 from Holy Trinity Church, Desborough
Praying the Way of the Cross requires only that you meditate on each station.

Before each station you may say: We adore you, O Christ, and we praise you, because by your holy Cross you have redeemed the world.

After each station you may say an Our Father, Hail Mary, or Glory be to the Father.


Station I from Holy Trinity Church, Desborough



Sharing the Stations of the Cross

Station 1 from St. Edward's church, Kettering We invite you to join our Parish, either in person or online, in sharing the Way of the Cross. In our online version we are grateful to the Kiltegan Fathers (Saint Patrick’s Missionary Society) for permission to use a text written by them. The Stations are from St. Edward’s Church, Kettering. They were donated to the church in 1940 by the Drake Lee Family, in memory of Dr. Daniel Drake Lee, a local parishioner.

Station I from St. Edward’s church, Kettering


A Shadow Puppet Version of the Stations of the Cross

A video showing a puppet version of the Stations of the Cross. The puppet show is created by Jesuit Brother Edward Sheehy. The show is edited and produced by Yvonne Balcer. The show was filmed at St. Peter’s Church, Jersey City, NJ in 2006. Music “Were You There” by The O’Neill Brothers Group




Links

The following websites carry a selection of other versions of the stations and may also be of interest.

  • www.fisheaters.com This version of the stations prayers was written by St. Alphonsus Liguori in approx 1787 and is one of the most popular forms of the devotion used today.
  • The Vatican Website On Good Friday 1991, Pope John Paul II established a new set of meditations known as the Scriptural Way of the Cross. This link contains the new Scriptural Way of the Cross with meditations written by Pope John Paul II as they were prayed on Good Friday 2000AD.
  • Loyola Press Multimedia Stations of the Cross A Simple powerpoint version of the Stations of the Cross for Children by Catherine Odell.
  • University of Dayton Marian resources A page of information about the hymn “Stabat Mater” which is traditionally sung as congregations move between stations in church.