The Stations of the Cross are an ancient form of Christian devotion, inviting us on a virtual pilgrimage in Jesus’ footsteps, recalling and reflecting on key moments on his journey to the cross.
Explore the content below and find out more about the Walking the Way of the Cross book and Kindle e-book, published by Church House Publishing, which features further reflections on all fifteen Stations by Bishop Stephen Cottrell, Canon Dr Paula Gooder and Bishop Philip North.
You can also explore the Common Worship service of ‘The Way of the Cross’ in our Prayer and Worship section.
The Stations of the Cross have formed part of Christian devotion at Passiontide for many centuries because they enable us to engage actively with the path of suffering walked by Jesus. They originated when early Christians visited Jerusalem and wanted to follow literally in the footsteps of Jesus, tracing the path from Pilate’s house to Calvary. They would pause for prayer and devotion at various points. Eventually those pilgrims brought the practice back to their home countries and ever since then Christians of differing traditions have used this form of devotion.
In the late fourteenth century the Franciscans were given the responsibility for the holy places of Jerusalem and they erected tableaux to aid the devotion of the visitors. These kinds of images are now commonplace inside churches, and occasionally outside them.
The number of stations has varied immensely through the centuries from as few as five to as many as thirty-six, but the now traditional number of fourteen was established by Clement XII in 1731 – nine scriptural stations and a further five based on popular devotion. However, owing to the increasing ecumenical popularity of this devotion there have been attempts to create a wholly scriptural set on which to focus.
The selection of stations presented here all have their root in the biblical story of Jesus rather than drawing on legend or popular, yet unscriptural, stories. This development makes the Stations of the Cross more accessible to all traditions within the Christian Church.
The recent rediscovery of the unity of the death and resurrection of Jesus has also led to the inclusion of a fifteenth station – the Resurrection. Though this may be superseded by the emergence of the Stations of the Resurrection as part of popular devotion, it is strongly suggested that this station be included, especially if the stations are used outside Lent and Passiontide.
Here, we offer liturgical resources only for scriptural stations, because those churches which have non-scriptural tableaux in place will probably have the resources already. Many churches will no doubt continue to use the fourteen ‘traditional’ stations because they are determined by the tableaux that are hung in the churches. For the information of those who may wish to use the ‘traditional’ stations they are listed here.
The stations may be used as a focus for personal prayer or as part of a liturgical celebration. In this latter context they have been used either as a whole service in themselves, or a few of the stations have been used in the context of a larger liturgical celebration.
The Biblical Stations of the Cross
Pilate condemns Jesus to death
Jesus falls the first time
Jesus accepts his cross
Jesus meets his mother
Simon helps Jesus carry the cross
Veronica offers her veil to Jesus
Jesus falls the second time
Jesus speaks to the women of Jerusalem
Jesus falls the third time
Jesus is stripped of his garments
Jesus is nailed to the cross
Jesus dies on the cross
Jesus is taken down from the cross
Jesus is placed in the tomb
Images of the Stations of the Cross are copyright (c) 2013 Nicholas Markell | Eyekons. Reproduced with permission.