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A Catholic Devotion: Praying the Stations of the Cross

The Way of the Cross is a popular Catholic devotion. All Catholic parishes have depictions of Christ’s Passion and death called the Stations of the Cross. Often on Friday evenings during Lent, you can find a parish that’s open with Catholics meditating and saying prayers in unison before each of the 14 stations:

  1. Jesus is condemned to death (Luke 23:24)

  2. Jesus takes up his cross (John 19:17)

  3. Jesus falls the first time (By inference from stations 2 and 5)

  4. Jesus meets his sorrowful mother (By inference from John 19:25–27)

  5. Simon of Cyrene helps carry the cross (Matthew 27:32)

  6. 6.Veronica wipes the face of Jesus (Not recorded in Scripture)

  7. Jesus falls a second time (Not recorded in Scripture)

  8. Jesus meets the holy women of Jerusalem (Luke 23:27–31)

  9. 9.Jesus falls the third time (Not recorded in Scripture)

  10. Jesus is stripped of his garments (John 19:23)

  11. Jesus is nailed to the cross (Mark 15:24)

  12. Jesus dies on the cross (Mark 15:37)

  13. His body is taken down and laid in the arms of his mother (Luke 23:53)

  14. His body is placed in the tomb (Matthew 27:60)

In many churches, the Stations of the Cross are depicted in stained-glass windows, but other media are used as well, including paintings and stone or wood carvings and sculptures.

This stone carving of the Tenth Station shows Jesus being stripped of his garments (John 19:23).
This stone carving of the Tenth Station shows Jesus being stripped of his garments (John 19:23).

When the Holy Land was too dangerous to travel to (sound familiar?), St. Francis of Assisi (1182–1226) created the Christmas crèche (nativity scene) and the 14 Stations of the Cross. He erected them in the church, so people could imagine they were at the actual place and still pray. To this day, Catholic churches still have the 14 stations on the walls of their churches and still display the nativity scene at Christmastime.

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