How exactly did the Stations of the Cross begin?

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For more than 1500 years, Christians from all over the world have been traveling to the Holy Land to walk in the footsteps of Jesus' Passion and death.

In the 14th century, the Franciscan order was given the papal assignment to be guardians of the shrines in the Holy Land.

Commissary of the Holy Land for U.S.

So the friars arrived very early, 800 years ago in the Holy Land and received, about 100 years later in 1342, the mandate, the official mandate from Pope Clement VI to be the guardians of the holy places. So since then we are responsible for the Catholic Church, of the main shrines of Christianity.

But traveling to the Holy Land was not always easy or possible. Religious tension and violence often made it impossible for Christians to make the journey.

So the Franciscans helped lead the mission to recreate the holy places so that people could spiritually live the Stations of the Cross even outside the Holy Land.

And in the 16th century, the tradition of “walking” the way of the cross was officially named the Via Dolorosa or simply the Stations of the Cross.

But it wasn't until Pope Innocent XI in 1686 that churches were given official approval to build the stations due to the inability to travel to the Holy Land. About 35 years later, Pope Clement XII decided the number of stations would be the 14 traditionally followed even today.

One of the most famous traditions surrounding the Way of the Cross takes place every year in Rome in the Colosseum. There, the Pope joins hundreds of pilgrims to reflect on Jesus' Passion.

March 29, 2013

Sometimes it may seem as though God does not react to evil, as if he is silent. And yet, God has spoken, he has replied, and his answer is the Cross of Christ: a word which is love, mercy, forgiveness.

And today, one of the signature images in almost all Catholic churches is the Stations of the Cross.


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