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Stations of the Cross

century practice jerusalem especially

Also known as the Via dolorosa or Way of the Cross, the Stations of the Cross refer to specific moments and incidents which took place in Jesus’ journey through the streets of Jerusalem from his sentencing by *Pontius Pilate to his *Crucifixion on *Calvary and his *Entombment. The practice of physically retracing this path and meditating upon the events of *Christ’s passion became a popular activity for *pilgrims in the early Christian period. The practice of pictorially recreating these series of episodes in paintings and sculpture inside churches or in roadside shrines in Europe became common especially during the Crusades. In the mid-fourteenth century the Franciscans took charge of the holy sites in Jerusalem and formalized the processions along the Via dolorosa as well as encouraged devotion to the Stations of the Cross in all Franciscan monasteries and churches. The practice became widespread and illustrated booklets were produced, especially in the fifteenth century, aiding worshippers in their devotions. The number of “stations” (“stops”) varied widely from five (in the fifth century) to seven, to as many as forty-three in the later Middle Ages. The fourteen specified (in the sixteenth century) include a number of scenes illustrated in art from the early Christian period onward: (1) Jesus is sentenced by Pilate, (2) he is given the *cross to carry, (3) he stumbles, (4) he converses with the Virgin *Mary, (5) Simon of Cyrene takes the cross briefly, (6) Saint *Veronica wipes Jesus’ face, (7) the cross-bearing Jesus stumbles again, (8) he tells the women of Jerusalem not to grieve for him, (9) he falls to his knees, (10) he is stripped of his garments, (11) he is nailed to the cross, (12) he dies, (13) he is removed from the cross, and (14) he is laid in the *Holy Sepulchre
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