Stations of the cross

Stations of the cross

From Jerusalm to Europe and beyond

The crusades to the Holy Land, which took place during the Middle Ages led to the re-discovery of historic places in Jerusalem associated with the Passion of Christ. Two, then newly founded, religious orders (Franciscans and Dominicans) begun to organise the services helping people to meditate the Passion. After the Franciscans took care of the shrines in Jerusalem in early 14th century, they developed the cult "the Way" - that is, walking the path which Jesus walked from Pilate's praetorium, where he was sentenced, to Golgotha, where he was executed. The combination of these two devotions created the Stations of the Cross.

Many pilgrims from Europe who visited the Holy Land wanted to create a miniature Jerusalem upon their return. In 15th and 16th centuries Franciscans begun to built the stations fashioned on those in Jerusalem, initially as the outdoor shrines, across Europe to help those who couldn't make the actual pilgrimage to the Holy Land to accompany our Lord in His passion and to gain indulgences. Since 1862 any bishop can erect the stations of cross in churches and chapels (before it had to be a Franciscan priest).

Significance

This devotion reminds us that every day we make a decision whether or not to follow Christ on the path of self-denial and sacrifice in the spirit of love and to accept and carry the Cross amid our daily tasks and responsibilities. The meditations about the events shown in the “stations of the Cross” are an invitation to examine our lives and cooperate with God’s grace, accompanied by readiness to penance and conversion of life.

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Mediations by St. Alphonsus Liguori

Title photo: Station XI in Jerusalem,
License:CC2.0 Author:Berthold Werner