Praying the Stations of the Cross is a popular devotion in both the Eastern and Western Churches. It was developed during the Crusades when the knights and pilgrims began to follow the route of Christ’s way to Calvary. This devotion spread throughout Europe and was promulgated by the Franciscan friars in the 14th and 15th centuries. Eventually, the Stations of the Cross became an important catechetical tool, and the popularity of this devotion inspired some of the greatest examples of medieval Christian art. Some scholars believe that medieval miracle plays, which were essentially tableaux of Christ’s life, developed from the sculptured representations of the Stations of the Cross in the great Churches. These scenes from the Way of the Cross have provided inspiration for many of the world’s greatest works of visual art.
During Lent or Holy Week most parishes have a service of Stations at least once. It is worth taking children to this so that they can participate with other Catholics in this timeless and very moving devotion. If you are near a cathedral or other large church that has beautiful Stations it would be worth making a visit with children so that they can look closely at the depictions of Christ’s way to Calvary. The visual representations, combined with the prayers and meditations, help to deepen our understanding of the Way of the Cross, which will be of great spiritual benefit for all Catholics of all ages.
The Fourteen Stations
First Station – Jesus is condemned to Death
Second Station – Jesus is made to bear His Cross
Third Station – Jesus falls the first time under His Cross
Fourth Station – Jesus meets His Mother
Fifth Station – Simon the Cyrene helps Jesus carry His Cross
Sixth Station – Veronica wipes the face of Jesus
Seventh Station – Jesus falls the second time
Eighth Station – Jesus speaks to the daughters of Jerusalem
Ninth Station – Jesus falls the third time
Tenth Station – Jesus is stripped of His garments
Eleventh Station – Jesus is nailed to the Cross
Twelfth Station – Jesus dies on the Cross
Thirteenth Station – Jesus is taken down from the Cross
Fourteenth Station – Jesus is buried in the sepulchre
After announcing each station, genuflect and say:
V .We adore You O Christ and we praise You,
R. Because by Your holy Cross You have redeemed the world.
Then say the Our Father, the Hail Mary, and the Glory be to the Father +
After the final station, this prayer, adapted from one composed by Saint Alphonsus, might be said:
O Jesus Christ, my Lord, with what great love you travelled the painful road which led to your death — and how often have I abandoned you. But now I love you with my whole soul, and because I love you, I am sincerely sorry for having offended you. My Jesus, pardon me, and permit me to accompany you on this journey. You died for love of me, and it is my wish, O my dearest Redeemer, to be willing to die for love of you. O my beloved Jesus, in your love I wish to live, and in your love I wish to die. Amen. +
(+ – All make the sign of the cross.)