1911 Encyclopædia Britannica/Stations of the Cross

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STATIONS OF THE CROSS, a series of 14 pictures or images representing the closing scenes in the Passion of Christ, viz. (1) the condemnation by Pilate, (2) the reception of the cross, (3) Christ's first fall, (4) the meeting with His mother, (5) Simon of Cyrene carrying the cross, (6) Veronica wiping the face of Jesus, (7) the second fall, (8) the exhortation to the women of Jerusalem, (9) the third fall, (10) the stripping of the clothes, (n) the crucifixion, (12) the death, (13) the descent from the cross, (14) the burial. Sometimes a 15th—the finding of the cross by Helena—is added; on the other hand in the diocese of Vienna, the stations were at the end of the 18th century reduced to eleven. . They form a very popular item in Roman Catholic devotion. The representations are usually ranged round the church; sometimes they are found in the open air, especially on the ascent to some elevated church or shrine.

The devotion began among the Franciscans, who, as the guardians of the holy places in Jerusalem, sought by this means to enable Christians to make a pilgrimage at least in spirit. Pope Innocent XII. in 1694 declared that the indulgences granted for visiting Palestine might be gained by members of the order who, simply visiting the stations of the cross wherever represented, exercised a devout meditation as they passed from station to station. These indulgences were extended by Benedict XIII. in 1726 to all the faithful, and Clement XII. five years later granted the privilege to churches other than Franciscan, provided the stations were erected by a Franciscan. In 1857 the Roman Catholic bishops in England received faculties, renewed quinquenially, permitting them to erect the stations wkh the accompanying indulgences, and they often delegate this faculty to priests.