Beginning in the 4th century, Christian pilgrims to the Holy Land would walk the route that Jesus walked while carrying the cross on the way to his crucifixion on Golgotha. When Muslims captured Jerusalem in the 7th century, it became too dangerous for Christians to make this pilgrimage so instead they replicated the sites in their own villages and towns.
This devotion is known by several names including “Stations of the Cross”, “Way of the Cross,” “Via Dolorosa,” or “Via Crucis”. The object of the Stations is to help the faithful to make, in spirit, a pilgrimage to the primary scenes of Christ’s suffering and death.This has become one of the most popular of Catholic devotions and is carried out by passing from Station to Station, with certain prayers at each and devout meditation on the various incidents in turn.
The Franciscans are credited with popularizing the devotion which, in its early history, varied based on which and how many events of Christ’s Passion were commemorated. In 1731, Pope Clement XII set the number of Stations to fourteen. Though it was originally held outside along roads to shrines or churches, the erection of Stations within churches was strongly encouraged in the decades that followed so that it wasn’t long before most churches had them. The fourteen Stations are usually mounted on the walls of a church and are created in a variety of artistic forms out of materials such as wood, clay, metal, or canvas.
The Way of the Cross can still be made outside but is usually made inside especially during the Season of Lent and most especially on Good Friday. The Way of the Cross can be made publicly or privately, even at home.
The beautiful Stations at St. Augustine are a gift from the former Sacred Heart Parish in Lawrence. We hold Stations of the Cross every Friday during Lent, including Good Friday at 7pm. We hope you will join us for this prayerful devotion.