Stations of the Cross or The Way of the Cross
for Protestants and Catholics

by Dr. Ralph F. Wilson, Director, Joyful Heart Renewal Ministries
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The Confession of St. Longinus, by James J. Tissot
Detail from "The Confession of St. Longinus" (1884-1896), by James J. Tissot. Larger image.

The 14 Stations of the Cross (also known as the Way of the Cross, Via Crucis, Via Dolorosa, Way of Sorrows) has been a Christian devotional practice going back to the time of St. Francis of Assisi and beyond. It involves meditating at way stations on the way to the Cross, recalling Jesus' journey along the Via Dolorosa in Jerusalem on Good Friday.

Here's how to do this devotional exercise: Take your time, preferably a few minutes at each virtual station. Look carefully at the painting, read the scripture, and listen for God's voice. Then pray a prayer thanking God for Christ's love and the suffering for us of which this station reminds you. Or you can pray the Jesus Prayer reverently at each station: "Lord Jesus Christ, have mercy on me."

Traditional Way of the Cross (in this form since abut 1650)
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Scriptural (Biblical) Way of the Cross (introduced by Pope John Paul II in 1991)
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Alternate (Protestant) Way of the Cross (concluding with the Resurrection)
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Links to other Stations of the Cross Sites | Harmony of Versions

The Stations of the Cross have been practiced by Roman Catholics, Anglicans, and Lutherans, though other Christian denominations are learning the value of this practice, said to have begun with St. Francis of Assisi. The Stations of the Cross are also celebrated in Jerusalem each year by thousands of Christian pilgrims along the Via Dolorosa.

You'll find the stations on this site beautifully illustrated by French painter James Jacques Tissot (1836-1902). You can find his biography and links to some of his 700 Old Testament and Gospel paintings elsewhere on this site.

I was introduced this devotional exercise by seeing stations of the cross in gardens at Catholic retreat centers at training seminars and retreats I have attended. During a break I'd often walk along the path to each of 14 stations and then pause to meditate on the event depicted by each station. If you've never meditated on the Stations of the Cross, give it a try. It'll help you grow in Christ.

Copyright © 1985-2014, Ralph F. Wilson. <pastor@joyfulheart.com> All rights reserved. A single copy of this article is free. Do not put this on a website. See legal, copyright, and reprint information.

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