The Scriptural Stations of the Cross

As I wrote about last week, observing the Stations of the Cross during Lent deeply shaped me as a Protestant kid attending a Catholic school.

That said, one difficulty some Protestants have with the Stations of the Cross is that some of the stations aren't found in the bible. The traditional Stations of the Cross are these:

  1. Jesus is condemned to death 
  2. Jesus carries his cross 
  3. Jesus falls the first time 
  4. Jesus meets his mother 
  5. Simon of Cyrene helps Jesus carry the cross 
  6. Veronica wipes the face of Jesus 
  7. Jesus falls the second time 
  8. Jesus meets the women of Jerusalem 
  9. Jesus falls the third time 
  10. Jesus' clothes are taken away 
  11. Jesus is nailed to the cross 
  12. Jesus dies on the cross 
  13. Jesus is taken down from the cross
  14. Jesus is laid in the tomb
Obviously, as a Protestant kid I was puzzled about Station Six. Who was Veronica?

According to Catholic tradition Veronica was a pious woman of Jerusalem who was moved with pity upon seeing Jesus carrying his cross to Golgotha. As Jesus passed Veronica wiped his face. A miracle occurred in that an impression of Jesus's face was left upon the cloth called "The Veil of Veronica." 

As a Protestant kid, this story was new to me. As were Stations Three, Seven and Nine. I was unaware that Jesus fell, precisely three times, on his way to the cross.

These extra-biblical Stations may make some Protestants hesitant to observe or use the Stations of the Cross during Lent. However, in 1991 pope John Paul II introduced what is called the Scriptural or Biblical Stations of the Cross. These fourteen Stations are each tied to a part of the Passion narrative in the gospels. Protestants, I'm guessing, would be more comfortable with these, the Scriptural Stations of the Cross:

  1. Jesus in the Garden of Gethsemane (Matthew 26: 36-41)
  2. Jesus is betrayed by Judas and arrested (Mark 14: 43-46)
  3. Jesus is condemned by the Sanhedrin (Luke 22: 66-71)
  4. Jesus is denied by Peter (Matthew 26: 69-75)
  5. Jesus is judged by Pilate (Mark 15: 1-5, 15)
  6. Jesus is scourged and crowned with thorns (John 19: 1-3)
  7. Jesus takes up his cross (John 19: 6, 15-17)
  8. Jesus is helped by Simon to carry his cross (Mark 15: 21)
  9. Jesus meets the women of Jerusalem (Luke 23: 27-31)
  10. Jesus is crucified (Luke 23: 33-34)
  11. Jesus promises his kingdom to the repentant thief (Luke 23: 39-43)
  12. Jesus entrusts Mary and John to each other (John 19: 25-27)
  13. Jesus dies on the cross (Luke 23: 44-46)
  14. Jesus is laid in the tomb (Matthew 27: 57-60) 
To observe the Stations you read each text and accompany it with a prayer (and perhaps also a meditation) fitting that Station. The Stations and texts are the same but the prayers and meditations are diverse. Examples abound on the Internet, here is one from the US Catholic Conference of Bishops.

Also, if you have a smart phone there are Stations of the Cross apps you can get. I have one on my phone and I've been using it to observe the Stations during Lent.

This Protestant kid has come a long, long way.

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6 thoughts on “The Scriptural Stations of the Cross”

  1. This year our church is using the 14 Scriptural Stations together. We started on Ash Wednesday and have been using one station each Sunday and Wednesday and will finish on Good Friday with the 14th station. We have a very gifted seamstress who worked with the pastor to design a banner and meditation for each station and my wife and I have been developing the group conversations for each Wednesday evening. I didn't even know what Lent was until I was well into my 30's. My background was part of the conservative holiness movement and it was only when we started attending a Methodist Church that I was exposed to the richer liturgical traditions of the Christian faith. I've come a long way too.

  2. Our church is using the Stations of the Cross (1st time!) as we travel through Lent (another 1st!). We're using a wonderful pictorial book that, for each station, has an artistic depiction of the station, a meditative thought, a starter prayer, and the scripture. Scott Owings, a hospice chaplain, is the author who teamed up with an artist for this project. The artist depicts each station by focusing on hands to a striking and evocative effect.

    If you're interested, I don't believe you can get this on Amazon ... only by contacting Scott. Here is a link that says a bit more about the book and has Scott's email address. The book is $15.

  3. I cannot see the link, but a little work with Google led me here, where there is a description and Scott's email:

  4. This is not directly related to the Stations of the Cross, but a side note regarding those who find peace in practicing it.

    One of the joys I experience with this blog is reading the comments of those who have struggled though fundamentalism and legalism, now finding a better way. I also read blogs such as Huffington Post and Truthdig, which I find educational. What I find interesting on those blogs are Atheists who are former fundamentalists who are still angry with their fundamentalist god. I can certainly understand "angry" regarding one's past, especially if it has been a toxic one. There are things of my legalistic past that can still make me mutter to myself. But with many of these Atheist there seems to be a reluctance, even a guilt-ridden fear, to even try to imagine God being different from their family or regional god. After all, that is what fundamentalism does; it makes one afraid to "imagine". However, when I see the joy of former legalists and fundamentalists finding life within a loving, merciful liturgical tradition, I am more convince than ever that religion, healthy religion, and religion is good if it is healthy, is still alive and giving life.

  5. One of these I'll decide if I can set aside the social issues and become Catholic. I've felt drawn to it since at least middle school.

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