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Catholic Doctrine &
Information on the Stations of the Cross or the Way of the Cross
|1. ||Jesus is condemned to Death|
|2. ||Jesus is made to carry His Cross|
|3. ||Jesus falls the First Time|
|4. ||Jesus meets His Sorrowful Mother|
|5. ||Simon of Cyrene helps Jesus to carry His Cross|
|6. ||Veronica wipes the Face of Jesus|
|7. ||Jesus falls the Second Time|
|8. ||The Women of Jerusalem weep over Jesus|
|9. ||Jesus falls the Third Time|
|10. ||Jesus is stripped of His Garments|
|11. ||Jesus is nailed to the Cross|
|12. ||Jesus is raised upon the Cross and Dies|
|13. ||Jesus is taken down from the Cross and placed in the Arms of His Mother|
|14. ||Jesus is laid in the Sepulchre|
The object of the Stations is to help the faithful to make in spirit, as it were, a pilgrimage to the chief scenes
of Christs sufferings and death, and this has become one of the most popular of Catholic devotions. It is
carried out by passing from Station to Station with certain prayers at each and devout meditation on the various
incidents in turn. It is very usual, when the devotion is performed publicly, to sing a stanza of the
while passing from one Station to the next.
Inasmuch as the Way of the Cross, made in this way, constitutes a miniature pilgrimage to the holy places at
Jerusalem, the origin of the devotion may be traced to the Holy Land. The Via Dolorosa at Jerusalem
(though not called by that name before the sixteenth century) was reverently marked out from the earliest
times and has been the goal of pious pilgrims ever since the days of Constantine. Tradition asserts that the
Blessed Virgin used to visit daily the scenes of the Passion of Christ, and St. Jerome speaks of the crowds of pilgrims
from all countries that used to visit the holy places in his day.
It cannot be said with any certainty when indulgences for visiting the holy places began to be granted, but
most probably they may be due to the Franciscans, to whom in 1342 the guardianship of the holy places was entrusted.
A desire to reproduce the holy places in other lands, in order to satisfy the devotion of those who were hindered
from making the actual pilgrimage, seems to have manifested itself at quite an early date.
Realizing that comparatively few persons were able to gain these by means of a personal pilgrimage to the Holy
Land, Innocent XI, in 1686, granted to the Franciscans, in answer to their petition, the right to erect the Stations
in all their churches and declared that all the indulgences that had ever been given for devoutly visiting the
actual scenes of Christs Passion could thenceforth be gained by Franciscans and all others affiliated with their
order if they made the Way of the Cross in their own churches in the accustomed manner. Innocent XII confirmed
the privilege in 1694 and Benedict XIII in 1726 extended it to all the faithful. In 1731, Clement XII still further
extended it by permitting the indulgenced Stations to all churches, provided that they were erected by a Franciscan
father with the sanction of the ordinary. At the same time, he definitely fixed the number of Stations at fourteen.
Benedict XIV in 1742 exhorted all priests to enrich their churches with so great a treasure, and there are few
churches now without the Stations.
There is some uncertainty as to what are the precise indulgences belonging to the Stations. It is agreed that all
that have ever been granted to the faithful for visiting the holy places in person can now be gained by making
the Via Crucis in any church where the Stations have been erected in due form.
In 1773, Clement XIV attached the same indulgence, under certain conditions, to crucifixes
duly blessed for the purpose, for the use of the sick, those at sea or in prison, and others lawfully hindered
from making the Stations in a church. The conditions are that, whilst holding the crucifix in their hands, they
must say the Our Father and Hail Mary fourteen times, then the Our Father,
Hail Mary, and Glory Be five times, and the same prayers once each for the popes
In conclusion, it may be safely asserted that there is no devotion more richly endowed with indulgences than the
Way of the Cross and none which enables us more literally to obey Christs injunction to take up our cross and
follow Him. A perusal of the prayers usually given for this devotion in any manual
shows what abundant spiritual graces, even apart from the indulgences, may be obtained through the devotion.
The fact that the Stations may be made either publicly or privately in any church renders the devotion
suitable for all.
Excerpted from the Catholic Encyclopedia
© 2008 Carmelite Monastery
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