The stations of the Cross is a prayer commemorating the passion of Jesus, whereby different stages of the prayer represents different happenings doing Jesus suffering. It’s often represented with images
Where Did the Stations of the Cross Originate?
The practice of visiting each station to pray originated with early Christian pilgrims who visited the historic sites of the events and walked the route believed to be from Pilate’s house to Christ’s tomb.
The routes that were taken varied at first, due to different interpretations of the route Christ took, but the path known as the Via Dolorosa eventually solidified as beginning at Antonia Fortress in Jerusalem, which was believed to be where Jesus stood before Pilate, to the crucifixion hill of Calvary/Golgotha, and ending at the Basilica of the Holy Sepulcher, which had been erected on the supposed site of Christ’s tomb in the fourth century after Constantine’s legalization of Christian worship. In 1342, Franciscan monks were given official custody of the sites.
Most medieval pilgrims, however, couldn’t afford the arduous journey to the Holy Land. Thus, stations were set up near churches instead. Some Vias Dolorosa were even measured to use the actual distances from the Holy Land between markers. The number of stations varied until Pope Clement XII set the number at 14 in 1731.
The series of the Stations are as follows
(1) Jesus is condemned to death,
(2) he is made to bear his cross,
(3) he falls the first time,
(4) he meets his mother,
(5) Simon of Cyrene is made to bear the cross,
(6) Veronica wipes Jesus’ face,
(7) he falls the second time,
(8) the women of Jerusalem weep over Jesus,
(9) he falls the third time,
(10) he is stripped of his garments,
(11) he is nailed to the cross,
(12) he dies on the cross,
(13) he is taken down from the cross, and
(14) he is placed in the sepulchre.
The benefits of the Stations of the Cross therefore are:
1. Uniting one’s suffering and pain with the Suffering of Christ (cf. Rom 8:17; 2Cor 1:5)
2. Healing for by His wounds we are healed (cf. 1Pet 2:24; Is 53:5)
3. Penance through the shedding of His blood (cf. Heb 9:22; Eph 1:7)
4. A plenary indulgence is received.
What is plenary indulgence?
“If you suffer, it should not be as a murderer or thief or any other kind of criminal, or even as a meddler. However, if you suffer as a Christian, do not be ashamed, but praise God that you bear that name.” (1Pet 4:15-16)
ABOUT PLENARY INDULGENCIES
According to The Enchiridion of Indulgences issued in 1968 by the Apostolic Penitentiary, No. 63 states that:
“Exercise of the Way of the Cross (Viae Crucis exercitium) A plenary indulgence is granted to the faithful, who make the pious exercise of the Way of the Cross. In the pious exercise of the Way of the Cross we recall anew the sufferings, which the divine Redeemer endured, while going from the praetorium of Pilate, where he was condemned to death, to the mount of Calvary, where he died on the on the cross for our salvation.
The gaining of the plenary indulgence is regulated by the following norms:
1. The pious exercise must be made before Stations of the Cross legitimately erected
2. For the erection of the Way of the Cross fourteen crosses are required, to which it is customary to add fourteen pictures or images, which represent the stations of Jerusalem
3. According to the more common practice, the pious exercise consists of fourteen pious readings, to which some vocal prayers are added. However, nothing more is required than a pious meditation on the Passion and Death of the Lord, which need not be a particular consideration of the individual mysteries of the stations
4. A movement from one station to the next is required. But if the pious exercise is made publicly and if it is not possible for all taking part to go in an orderly way from station to station, it suffices if at least the one conducting the exercise goes from station to station, the others remaining in their place.