The Stations of the Cross are a series of pictures or images that represent certain scenes in the Passion of Christ. The Stations are usually made of stone, wood, or metal, sculptured or carved, or they may be merely paintings or engravings. They are usually arranged in numerical order around the walls of a church, though sometimes they can be found outdoors at a shrine. The erection and use of the Stations did not become at all general before the end of the seventeenth century, but they are now to be found in almost every church or chapel. The number of stations has varied throughout their history but fourteen are now the norm.
The Stations are meant to help people to make in spirit, as it were, a pilgrimage to the chief scenes of Christ's sufferings and death, and this has become one of the most popular of Catholic devotions in the season of Lent. It is carried out by passing from Station to Station, with certain prayers at each and a meditation on Jesus’ deep love for humanity.
The origin of the devotion may be traced to the Holy Land where Jesus experienced His passion, death and resurrection. In Jerusalem these important sites were reverently marked out from the earliest times and became an important destination for pilgrims ever since the days of Constantine. A desire to reproduce the holy places in other lands, for those who were unable to make the actual pilgrimage, seems to have manifested itself at quite an early date.
In conclusion it may be safely said that the Stations of the Cross is one of the richest devotions which enables us to more literally obey Christ's command to take up our cross and follow Him.
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