Stations of the Cross
Also known as the Way of the Cross, the Stations of the Cross is a devotion especially popular for Fridays in Lent. Brought to Europe by the Franciscans, they represent spots where pilgrims to Jerusalem stop to pray while retracing the steps of Christ. Since the Middle Ages, European Catholics who could not go to Jerusalem have walked indoor or outdoor paths marked with carvings or images depicting the sites, praying just as their brother and sister pilgrims did in the Holy Land.
In the 1700s, all churches in the world were permitted to hang Stations of the Cross in their sanctuaries. Outdoor Stations also remain popular. Many parishes hold group Stations of the Cross prayer on Fridays of Lent, but anyone can pray the Stations at any time. Many prayers and sets of Scripture readings can be used, but the most popular were created by St. Francis of Assisi and St. Alphonsus Liguori.
In 2000, Pope St. John Paul II urged Catholics to add a 15th station, Christ’s Resurrection, to the Stations of the Cross. The 15th Station is not required, and anyone may pray either number, or go back and forth between 14 and 15. Many parishes that have a 15th Station omit it on Good Friday.
Find a free Stations smartphone app at CatholicApps.com. See the center of our March issue for the pull-out Stations of the Cross graphic (pictured below) featuring photos from Stations from around the Archdiocese of Cincinnati, or click on the link below to download a high-resolution, printable pdf of the graphic. (Hint: It prints best on 11 x 17 paper.)