The 14 Stations of the Cross adorn the walls of almost every Catholic church and chapel. Many parishes commemorate the Fridays of Lent and Good Friday with a prayerful remembrance of the passion of Christ by walking the stations with him.
Throughout our history, Christians have longed to literally walk in the footsteps of Christ. The shrines of the holy places in and around Jerusalem have drawn pilgrims inspired by the life and death of their master.
However, not everyone is able to travel to the Holy Land. So, ever since the Middle Ages, churches and chapels began erecting images devoted to an aspect of the passion. By the 15th century, the Franciscans had developed a devotion they called “stations.” The word means a place where people stand still or gather together. So even though it implies something “stationary” the service obviously must include the movement of pilgrims following the footsteps of Christ. It took a while to fix the number and the names of the stations, but in 1731 Pope Clement XII established the 14 we know today.
We still find some variations on the number. Many places add a 15th station, for example, the ‘Resurrection of Jesus’. Discontent with leaving Christ in the tomb when our faith expresses so much more, worshipers have found consolation in completing the story of the cross.
Over the years our church has authorized various versions of the stations for different occasions. For example, Pope John Paul II altered the traditional stations for his Good Friday service in Rome in 1991. He eliminated some stations which derived from tradition and substituted them with events from the Gospels. The following are the ones he used:
- Jesus in the Garden of Olives (Matthew 26:36-41)
- Jesus is betrayed by Judas (Mark 14:43-46)
- Jesus is condemned to death by the Sanhedrin (Luke 22:66-71)
- Jesus is denied by Peter (Matthew 26:69-75)
- Jesus is judged by Pilate (Mark 15:1-5, 15)
- Jesus is beaten and crowned with thorns (John 19:1-3)
- Jesus carries his cross (John 19:6, 15-17)
- Jesus is helped by Simon of Cyrene (Mark 15:21)
- Jesus encounters the women of Jerusalem (Luke 23:27-31)
- Jesus is crucified (Luke 23:33-34)
- Jesus promises the kingdom to the good thief (Luke 23:39-43)
- Jesus speaks to his mother and the disciple (Luke 23:44-46)
- Jesus dies on the cross (John 19:25-27)
- Jesus is placed in the tomb (Matthew 27:57-60)
This Good Friday, 15 April, our Parish will commemorate the Way of the Cross using this ‘scriptural version’. Each station will be represented with a modern ‘justice’ theme that challenges the Church today. All are invited to come along at 10 am in St Agnes’ Catholic Church to commemorate Jesus’ Way of the Cross. View the PDF here