Stations of the Cross
Importance of Stations
Characters of the Stations
Stations tell the story of Jesus' last moments before his death on the cross.
While crucifixions were rather common during that time period, the context surrounding Jesus' was rather anything but academic.
The stations detail how Jesus was betrayed apostle Judas, denounced by high chief priests, denied by apostle Peter, sentenced to death by Pilate, scrouged by the Romans, and the extenuating crucifixion that follows.
While anything but joyous, the stations allow Catholics to understand the suffering Jesus endured for his fellow man. Knowing what would occur, Jesus endured unbearable pain, both emotional and physical. Stations allow Catholics to examine the sacrifice Jesus made, which can result in reflections on how to live a better life.
Jesus: the main character, who endures a series of trials which results in his death via crucifixion.
Mary: Jesus' mother. She stood at the foot of the cross during the crucifixion.
Peter: one of the apostles. Jesus predicted that Peter would denounce him three times, a prophecy that he fulfilled.
Judas: one of the apostles. Judas betrayed Jesus, selling him to the Romans for 30 pieces of silver. Judas tips off the Romans by kissing Jesus.
Pilate: the Roman govenor who sentenced Jesus to death. Initially reluntact, Pilate eventually gave into the crucifixion demands of the Jews.
Barrabas: criminal who was released by Pilate instead of Jesus. The Jews demanded his release in order to keep the tradition of releasing one inmate during Passover.
Simon of Cyrenian: traveler who was beckoned to carry help Jesus carry the cross. When pressed into duty, Simon helped Jesus.
The Good Theif: was crucified at the same moments as Jesus. Asked Jesus to remember him, to which Jesus promised eternal life in response.
History of Stations
The practicing of stations of the cross have an extensive history. The form began in the early 4th century.
Constantine, the Roman Emperor at the time, oversaw the construction of the Church of Holy Sepulcher. When it was completed in 335, processions began shortly after during holy week.
During the intial stages following Holy Sepulcher's completion, holy week attracted pilgrims from all over Europe to Rome.
Nearly a millenium later, the practicing of the stations expanded. The Fransican Friars were allowed to have property in Palestine (today known as Israel). When Pope Innocent (late 17th century) allowed the Friars to practice stations in all their churches, the practice soon expanded worldwide.
Today, it is commonplace for stations to be practiced in Catholic Churches everywhere. It is seen as a vital part of Lent for many Catholics.