In my last post, I showed some sculptures of the Stations of the Cross at Mission San Luis Rey. It occurs to me that some of my readers may be wondering what in the misty hills are Stations of the Cross.
The Stations grew out of another ancient Catholic Christian custom, the pilgrimage to Jerusalem. (Pilgrims to Jerusalem and the Holy Land became known as “palmeros” for the souvenir palms they picked up.) While the pilgrims were in Jerusalem, especially if it was Holy Week, devout pilgrims would walk the path of Jesus’ route to the Cross and His death. They would stop and pray at various points along the way.
Over time, the set of stopping points became a list of fourteen events that ends with Christ’s death on the Cross at Golgotha. And, over time, the custom became well-known. As the Church had declared that there were great spiritual benefits from accompanying Christ in spirit during His Passion, it became apparent that only people with the wherewithal and time to go to the Holy Land and travel about could do this. Beginning (I think) with the Franciscans, the people began going in heart to the Holy Land and accompanying Christ on his walk to the Cross in their own churches. Since this is a spiritual journey to begin with, crossing time back to the first century AD, crossing space as well as time doesn’t matter.
Catholic churches almost always have a set of Stations for the faithful to spiritually follow Christ to Golgotha. There are a number of published books of meditations for a person to use, as well, such as the ones by St. Alphonsus of Liguria. These days one can not only get them on a Kindle, one can go to either indoor ones or outdoor ones in various places.
|From Rome, Jesus is taken down from the Cross|
|From Mission San Luis Rey, Simon is conscripted to help Jesus carry His cross|
|From Pamplona, Spain, another view of Simon's conscription to help Jesus carry the Cross|
|From Madrid, Jesus is nailed to the Cross|
|From St. Paul's in Mission, Texas, some of the Stations. Left, Jesus is crucified, showing also the Blessed Virgin and St. John and one other figure at the foot of the Cross. |