Stations of the Cross
The Stations of the Cross is a primarily Roman Catholic devotional practice that is sometimes performed by Anglican and other churches. This devotional practice, which goes all the way back to the Middle Ages, is also referred to as “The Way of the Cross” or “Via Dolorosa.”
How did the Stations of the Cross develop?
The devotional practice of Stations of the Cross developed during the Middle Ages when wars made it impossible for Christians to visit the Holy Land. Pilgrimages were a central part of the life of faith, so the Stations of the Cross was developed as a way of having a “mini-pilgrimage” right in one's local church.
You may have seen a Catholic Church decorated with fourteen images related to these central events in the life of Christ. The events are best commemorated on foot, as a person walks through the stations, pausing to pray and contemplate each step that Christ took. The Stations of the Cross can also be done in an outside space. A wooded area or garden is especially well-suited to this meditative and prayerful devotional practice.
For Roman Catholics, the Stations of the Cross are often associated with Lent and Good Friday, but they can be performed at any time of the year, both at church and at home. Nowadays, you can even walk with Christ in a virtual way through an online Stations of the Cross (
The Stations offer an opportunity to literally follow in the footsteps of Christ during the most critical hours of his life. This devotional practice requires one to stop and prayerfully consider each step of Christ's journey to Calvary.
The liturgical and devotional practices surrounding the Virgin Mary offer a rich way to draw close to Christ as one considers the experience of the woman who was clearly closest to him — his mother.
A survey of these feasts and cycles offers a glimpse into the unity and diversity of liturgical traditions surrounding the Virgin Mary. These traditions have developed over time, as Christianity has spread around the globe. The feasts of Mary have served as a way to contemplate the Incarnation, the mystery of God becoming human. They bring an element of humanity to the Church, a glimpse of the feminine through Mary, and help keep worship rooted in the seasons and the earth.