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Fourteen Stations of the Cross

Dennis Bratcher

The Stations of the Cross often refers to a series of depictions, usually either paintings or sculpture, that coincide with the Stations of the Cross along the Via Dolorosa ("Way of Suffering") in the Old City of Jerusalem.  The Via Dolorosa is the traditional route that Jesus followed from his condemnation in Pilate's Hall to Golgotha and his death and burial.  It is marked at fourteen places or "stations" that are associated with biblical or traditional events along the route.  Following the path and stopping at the Stations to pray and meditate is as an exercise in devotion and piety (see The Cross as a Journey).

Since many people could not make the arduous pilgrimage to Jerusalem, in the medieval period there developed the practice of using depictions of these Stations in local cathedrals to allow worshippers to make the same devotional journey. They came into general use by the seventeenth century and are present today in nearly all Catholic churches. The popularity of the Stations of the Cross as a devotional exercise has been fostered by these traditional depictions.

In the form of paintings or sculpted plaques they are usually spaced around the walls of Catholic churches or are located in a prayer garden. In Protestant churches that use them, they are usually located in a prayer chapel. While historically these depictions have been paintings or sculptures, they can be anything from banners to various kinds of art or plaques in most any medium, from large and elaborate to small and simple. The number of scenes (stations) in the series can vary from eight (the events specifically mentioned in the Gospel accounts) to fifteen (including a final Station for the resurrection). Some of the Stations vary in different traditions. Traditionally, there have been fourteen Stations.

Station 1: Jesus is Condemned to Die

Station 2: Jesus Takes up His Cross

Station 3: Jesus Falls the First Time

Station 4: Jesus meets His Mother

Station 5: Simon of Cyrene is Compelled to Bear Jesus' Cross

Station 6: Veronica Wipes Jesus' Face

Station 7: Jesus Falls A Second Time

Station 8: Jesus Meets the Women of Jerusalem

Station 9: Jesus Falls A Third Time

Station 10: Jesus Is Stripped of His Garments

Station 11: Jesus is Nailed to the Cross

Station 12: Jesus Dies

Station 13: Jesus' Body is Taken Down from the Cross

Station 14: Jesus' Body is Laid in the Tomb

-Dennis Bratcher, Copyright © 2013, Dennis Bratcher - All Rights Reserved
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