TRIM – Stations of the Cross

TRIM – Stations of the Cross
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Pope John Paul II led an annual public prayer of the Stations of the Cross at the Roman Colosseum on Good Friday. Originally, the Pope himself carried the cross from station to station, but in his last years, he presided over the celebration from a stage on the Palatine Hill, while others carried the cross. Just days prior to his death in 2005, Pope John Paul II observed the Stations of the Cross from his private chapel in the Vatican.

Each year a different person is invited to write the meditation texts for the Stations. Past composers of the Papal Stations include several non-Catholics. In many years, the Stations meditated have not corresponded to the traditional list given above, which led some to speculate that the Pope would change the list. However, the Holy Father himself wrote the texts for the Jubilee year 2000 and used the traditional Stations. Pope John Paul II created a version in which all of the Stations were taken from Scripture. In this version, the Stations are: (1) The Agony in the Garden; (2) Jesus’ betrayal and arrest; (3) He is condemned by the Sanhedrin; (4) Denied by Peter; (5) Condemned to death by Pilate; (6) Scourged and crowned with thorns; (7) He is made to carry his cross; (8) Simon of Cyrene helps Jesus; (9) Jesus meets with the women of Jerusalem; (10) He is crucified; (11) He promises paradise to the thief; (12) He speaks to John and Mary; (13) He dies; (14) He is laid in the tomb.

Prayer of the Stations of the Cross is connected with a plenary indulgence according to the normal conditions of the Church. To achieve the indulgence, the person praying must walk from station to station, meditating on the Passion. There is no requirement that this meditation be of a certain duration, use specific prayers, or indeed, that the meditation correspond to the stations that are depicted. A validly erected set of the Stations of the Cross should be blessed by a Franciscan, and should include a wooden cross at each station. (Images are optional.) The same indulgence is available to those unable to visit the stations by meditating for 30 minutes on the Passion.

The celebration of the Stations of the Cross is especially common on the Fridays of Lent, and especially Good Friday. Community celebrations are usually accompanied by various songs and prayers. Particularly common as musical accompaniment is the sequence Stabat Mater Dolorosa. At the end of each station, the Adoramus Te is sometimes sung. The Alleluia is also sang, however that holy word is buried during Lent.

Many advocate today the addition of a 15th station, depicting Christ’s Resurrection, because without his rising from the dead he would not have accomplished the salvation that, Christians believe, was his mission – the same consideration that causes the three days commencing with the evening Mass of the Lord’s Supper on Maunday Thursday and concluding with Vespers on the evening of Easter Sunday to be regarded as a liturgical unity, the so-called Holy Triduum or Paschal Triduum. Others have begun the practice of the Via Lucis in Eastertide to meditate on the Resurrection and Ascension of the Lord.

Structurally, Mel Gibson’s 2004 film, The Passion of the Christ, follows the Stations of the Cross. The fourteenth and last station, the Burial, is not prominently depicted (compared to the other thirteen) but it is implied since the last shot before credit titles is Jesus resurrected and is about to leave the tomb.