The Stations represent critical events from Scripture or tradition of Jesus’ journey to Calvary. Celebrated originally only outdoors, the Stations were allowed inside churches in the mid-18th century. Eventually fixed at fourteen, the Stations soon became a familiar feature in Catholic; Lutheran, and Anglican churches.
The object of the Stations is to help the faithful to make a spiritual pilgrimage of prayer, by meditating upon the chief scenes of Christ’s sufferings and death, and is often performed in a spirit of reparation for the sufferings and insults that Jesus endured during His Passion.
The devotion may be conducted personally by the faithful, making their way from one station to another and saying the prayers, or by having an officiating celebrant move from cross to cross while the faithful make the responses.
A Brief History of the Stations of the Cross
The traditional 14 Stations of the Cross represent what Christ experienced on His way to crucifixion. usually represented as a series of artistic representations. The Stations of the Cross are also known as the The Way of the Cross. Each of the Stations are a devotion to the passion of Christ consisting of prayers and meditations on fourteen occurrences using each of the Stations to commemorate the Passion, often moving physically around a set of stations.
During the time of the crusades (1095-1270), it became popular for pilgrims in the Holy Land to walk in the footsteps of Jesus to Calvary. After the Moslems recaptured the Holy Land pilgrimages were too dangerous. As a result, the Stations of the Cross became a popular substitute pilgrimage throughout Europe.
The tradition as chapel devotion began with St. Francis of Assisi and extended throughout the Roman Catholic Church in the medieval period. It is commonly observed by Lutherans and amongst the Anglo-Catholic wing of Anglicanism, and is most commonly observed during the Season of Lent, especially on Good Friday and on Friday evenings during Lent.
Are there 14 or 15 Stations of the Cross?
Traditionally there have always been 14 Stations of the Cross. A 15th station, “Resurrection of Christ”, has been added by some writers but it is not canonical.
There have been claims that this station was created or encouraged by Pope Saint John Paul II in 2000. However, our research seems to indicate this claim to be false. The Vatican holds the records of all speeches, and on the Good Friday prayer of 2000 he mentions no mention of a 15th station. As a final argument to this point, Pope Francis also makes no mention of a 15th station on his 2022 Good Friday Prayer.
Therefore, we have to conclude that there are 14 Stations of the Cross. It has been established Catholic tradition for thousands of years and has been kept this way by the Popes.
What are the 14 Stations of the Cross in Order?
Station 1 – Christ is Condemned.
Station 2 – Jesus Carries His Cross.
Station 3 – Jesus Falls the First Time.
Station 4 – Jesus Meets His Mother.
Station 5 – Simon Helps Jesus Carry the Cross.
Station 6 – Veronica Wipes the Face of Jesus.
Station 7 – Jesus Falls the Second Time.
Station 8 – Jesus Meets the Women of Jerusalem.
Station 9 – Jesus Falls a Third Time.
Station 10 – Jesus Clothes are Taken Away.
Station 11 – Jesus is Nailed to the Cross.
Station 12 – Jesus Dies on the Cross.
Station 13 – Jesus is Taken Down from the Cross.
Station 14 – Jesus is Laid in the Tomb.
Station of the Cross Prayers
The Station of the Cross prayers are typically made on Good Friday. Each year the Pope delivers a new speech with station of the cross prayers. We have linked two of those above, and they are powerful reads.
However, you might be looking for something shorter that you can say for yourself or your loved ones. In this case, you can try our Station of the Cross Prayers.
Use these prayers in your daily spiritual life as a reminder of Christ’s offer of salvation and what he endured to assure it.
These prayers can also be used as a guide to learn more about the Stations of the Cross and why we as a faith embrace them.