Some Facts About the Stations of the Cross (from Catholic Encyclopedia Online)

Definition: A series of 14 pictures or sculptures representing scenes from the Passion of Christ, ranged around walls of a church. Participants move from station to station, stopping at each to meditate upon each depicted scene.


1. Did not become common until nearly 1800; now in almost every church.

2. Represented as a miniature pilgrimage to Jerusalem.

3. No evidence of a similar devotional exercise in Jerusalem at the time the Stations were being developed.

4. First appearances of Stations are in 15th. c Spain and the Low Countries, later in southern German cities.

5. Number and subjects of stations varied: 31, 19, 25, 37, 12. The 14 now in use first appear in the Low Countries in the 16th century.

Present use:

1. Since the current system of stations has been around for over 200 years, most worshippers are probably unaware of this history.

2. The goal of the devotion is to participate vicariously in the suffering and death of Christ. It is not described as a pilgrimage.

3. Pilgrimages to Jerusalem have been influenced by the Stations; it is now popular to walk the particular route indicated by the stations and to stop at appropriate points along the way.