stations of the cross

Anonymous asked this question on 7/22/2000:

These questions have intrigued me for some time. Perhaps some of you can help me with them.

Where did this popular Roman Catholic devotions come from?

 The Stations of the Cross

Who introduced them into Catholic practice, and when? What was the original motivation for each of them?



mscperu gave this response on 7/23/2000:


The promised information concerning the Stations


The Stations of the Cross

It is a devotion to walk with Christ the way from the garden to the Golgotha. All 14 Stations can be referred or deducted from the Gospels. Except one: the encounter with Veronica. This is legendary.

The devotion originates in Jerusalem where some Stations were marked with stone or chapel visited by the pilgrims. From the 14th on the pilgrims guided by a Franciscan walked the "sanctus circulus" (room of the last supper, house of Annas and Kaiphas, Golgotha and holy sepulcher, praetorium, Gethsemane, olive grove, Kedron, Zion). There is a pious legend that Mary after the resurrection walked this way every day. Between the sepulcher and the preatorium there were 14 places of remembrance. The Englishman William Wey was the first to call them Stations. His "Stations" are in parts different from those today.

But the Franciscans living in the Jerusalem used to walk from the praetorium to the sepulcher (cf. Alex. Ariosti, Descriptio Terrae Sanctae 1461).

It was the dream of all Christians to able to visit the Holy Land and walk the Stations. For those who couldn't make it (the majority) the faithful build imitations but they were marked only by the beginning (Castle Antonia) and the end (Calvary) as in Lubeck (1468). The monastic institutions had them early (Álvarez de Cordoba build one in 1423). Very soon additional monuments divided this. The devotion of the seven Stations of the Churches in Rome divided the Stations in 7 but only in the German part. In other countries there were great differences. The Stations built in the Monte Sacro of Varallo by Bernardin Caimi reached finally the number of 43.

The definitive number 14 was influenced by the book of the Stations of the priest Bethlehem (1518) and the exact description by the priest Ch. Cruys called Adrichomus 1584 (Jerusalem sicut Christi tempore floruit) and the Theatrum Terra Sanctae (1590). Adrichomus suggested 12 Stations. The Spanish Franciscan Antonius Daza added in his "Exercicios espirituales" the last two Stations, as we know them today. Leonhard of Porto Maurizio (+ 1745) had great influence in disseminating this devotion in the whole world. The competent Roman congregation accepted his guide and prayer of the Stations as general standard for this devotion. This practice was adopted in Jerusalem later on.

The via crucis predicata of Leonhard of Porto Maurizio, homilies to give back to the Stations of the Cross the seriousness and devotion in the Monte alle Croci at Florence, had a great influence on the devotion in other parts. They consist in a description of the Passion of the Lord with exhortations regarding penitence and conversion. He is material consists of the Scripture, legends and especially visions meditations of the Passion by mystics. We have 10 series (viaggi) with 15 homilies each (fervorini), one as introduction and one for each Station. His most famous homilies were held on occasion of the establishment of the Stations in the Coliseum at Rome (1750).

The medieval devotion favored very much the personal (and emotional) participation in the Passion of the Lord. The Mass was in Latin. The people nourished the faith by devotions of this type. So this devotion was accepted and circulated very quickly in the global catholic ambiance as responding to a general necessity of the faithful.


To those who read this: When have you last walked and meditated the Stations of the Cross.








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