Stations of the Cross

Stations of the CrossAlso known as

  • Way of the Cross
  • Way of Sorrows
  • Via Crucis
  • Via Dolorosa


A devotion performed by meditating before 14 Stations of the Cross successively, on the Passion of Our Lord. The Stations are wooden crosses, usually affixed to the interior walls of a church, though they may be in the open air. The pictures, or groups of statuary, representing the journey of the Saviour to Calvary, are not the Stations, but merely an aid to devotion.

During many centuries pious Christians went as pilgrims to Jerusalem, but when that city was captured by Muslims, the pilgrimages ceased. In various parts of Europe the custom arose of placing pictures in churches representing the journey to Calvary. Probably the first to do this was the Blessed Alvarez, a Dominican, at Cordova, in Spain. The Franciscan Minorites adopted the practice in Italy c.1350.

The Stations are 14 in number, although in past centuries, in different places, the number varied from 11 to 16. They may begin on either side of the church, according to the way in which the figure of Our Lord is facing. Some of the scenes shown in the pictures are described in the Gospels, others are not. For example, there is no mention in the Scriptures of the Saviour’s falls beneath the cross, nor of His meeting with His Mother, nor of the story of Veronica.

This devotion is highly indulgenced, but the precise amount or number of the indulgences is not known. To gain them, it is not necessary to say any prayers; one need simply go around from the 1st Station to the 14th, stopping at each for a time and meditating on the Passion of Our Lord. If one cannot move about, because of a crowd, or if the Stations are being performed publicly, it is sufficient to turn towards each Station. The Stations must be lawfully erected, that is, they must be blessed by the bishop of the diocese, or by a priest delegated by one having authority to do so. Otherwise no indulgence can be gained. For a long time, the Franciscan Fathers were the only ones who could lawfully erect Stations in churches.

The traditional Stations are

  1. Jesus is condemned to death
  2. Jesus is given his cross
  3. Jesus falls the first time
  4. Jesus meets His Mother
  5. Simon of Cyrene carries the cross
  6. Veronica wipes the face of Jesus
  7. Jesus falls the second time
  8. Jesus meets the daughters of Jerusalem
  9. Jesus falls the third time
  10. Jesus is stripped of His garments
  11. Jesus is nailed to the cross
  12. Jesus dies on the cross
  13. Jesus’ body is removed from the cross
  14. Jesus is laid in the tomb

A 15th station of the Resurrection is sometimes added.

The variant known as a the Scriptural Way of the Cross has the following Stations

  1. Jesus in the Garden of Gethsemane
  2. Jesus is betrayed by Judas and arrested
  3. Jesus is condemned by the Sanhedrin
  4. Jesus is denied by Peter
  5. Jesus is judged by Pilate
  6. Jesus is scourged and crowned with thorns
  7. Jesus takes up His cross
  8. Jesus is helped by Simon to carry His cross
  9. Jesus meets the women of Jerusalem
  10. Jesus is crucified
  11. Jesus promises His kingdom to the repentant thief
  12. Jesus entrusts Mary and John to each other
  13. Jesus dies on the cross
  14. Jesus is laid in the tomb
Additional Information

MLA Citation

  • “Stations of the Cross“. CatholicSaints.Info. 11 July 2020. Web. 23 October 2020. <>