From the earliest years of Christianity, the faithful have made their way to the holy places in Jerusalem where Jesus suffered his passion and death. Although we have no set list of places those first pilgrims visited, over time there emerged a pattern, not only of places, but of special devotions practiced in those places. This pattern came to be known as the Via dolorosa (Way of sorrows) or Via crucis (Way of the cross). As Christianity spread, the number of pilgrims making their way to Jerusalem grew.
Almost since the first recorded pilgrimages to Jerusalem, we find also the recording of the longing experienced by those who were unable to make the trip. Those left at home while their neighbors traveled to the holy land, as well as those who could make the trip only once in a lifetime, sought a way to make a pilgrimage of the spirit along the way of the cross. Some achieved this by visiting a series of chapels, others wayside shrines, others by arranging artwork around the walls of a church or a cloister. For each, however, the aim was to make a series of “stations,” (stopping points) in order to pray and to meditate on some part of the passion narrative.
While the number and type of stations varied, by the seventeenth century a relatively standard list of stations had emerged:
- Jesus is condemned to death;
- Jesus takes up his cross;
- Jesus falls the first time;
- Jesus meets His afflicted Mother;
- The cross is laid on Simon of Cyrene;
- A woman wipes the face of Jesus;
- Jesus falls a second time;
- Jesus meets the women of Jerusalem;
- Jesus falls a third time;
- Jesus is stripped of His garments;
- Jesus is nailed to the cross;
- Jesus dies on the cross;
- The body of Jesus is placed in the arms of his mother;
- Jesus is laid in the tomb.
Devotions might be made at these stations privately or in groups, praying silently or aloud, with or without music. While the Episcopal Church has devised a set of devotions for the Book of Occasional Services, any number of different devotions are appropriate.
At 6:30pm on Tuesday evenings during Lent*, we invite you to join us at the Church of the Holy Trinity for Stations of the Cross. We will gather at the front of the front of the church.*Except for March 25th, when we will join our sister parishes at the Cathedral of St. James for the Feast of the Annunciation.