Monday, March 26, 2007

The Way of the Cross

The Way of the Cross or Stations of the Cross is an ancient devotion in the Church which began as a pilgrimage to the holy sites of Christ's passion. Our Lady was said to have visited these places daily. The Via Dolorosa pilgrimage has a tradition that dates back to the time of Constantine, which consisted of visiting and praying at these religious shrines in Jerusalem. The holy places of the Via Dolorosa of Jerusalem are depicted with paintings, photos and a map at the Christus Rex site.

The earliest use of the word Stations, as applied to the accustomed halting-places in the Via Sacra at Jerusalem, occurs in the narrative of an English pilgrim, William Wey, who visited the Holy Land in 1458 and again in 1462, and who describes the manner in which it was then usual to follow the footsteps of Christ in His sorrowful journey. It seems that up to that time it had been the general practice to commence at Mount Calvary, and proceeding thence, in the opposite direction to Christ, to work back to Pilate's house. By the early part of the sixteenth century, however, the more reasonable way of traversing the route, by beginning at Pilate's house and ending at Mount Calvary, had come to be regarded as more correct, and it became a special exercise of devotion complete in itself.(Catholic Encyclopedia, "Way of the Cross")

In medieval Europe, when the Holy Lands became inaccessible due to war, local Stations of the Cross arose as a public and private devotion developed from these original pilgrimages, and artists depicted these passion events in pictures and sculptures for churches. Pilgrims then walked from station to station, reciting prayers, meditations and songs. The medieval hymn Stabat Mater Dolorosa is still frequently sung for public stations of the cross.

On Good Friday, public Processions of the Cross will take place all over the US and in many places around the world. The Communion and Liberation movement has adopted this ancient Church custom as a key event of the year. For information on locations of the Way of the Cross, including most of the major cities of the U.S., visit the CL national website. The New York procession starts from the Brooklyn Bridge and continues downtown to Ground Zero and has gathered thousands of participants since 9/11.

Way of the Cross, Good Friday, April 6, 2007 throughout the US

Lenten Companion: Illustrated Online Stations of the Cross

Christus Rex Via Crucis Jerusalem

Catholic Encyclopedia, "Way of the Cross"

Stations of the Cross at the Colosseum, led by Pope John Paul II, Good Friday 2000

Way of the Cross

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