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23 April 2014
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Stations of the cross

Jesus is condemned to death

Jesus is condemned to death
At the first station, Jesus stands before the judge, Pilate who pronounces his sentence.

The Stations of the Cross are pictures used to represent certain scenes at the Passion of Christ. The pictures are often called 'The Way of the Cross'.

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The cross is laid upon Jesus

The cross is laid upon Jesus
Soldiers place the cross upon Jesus' back and he is forced to walk with it to the place of crucifixion.

The stations are a spiritual pilgrimage for the believer. It is believed they were originally created to enable those who were unable to make a physical journey to the Holy Land make a spiritual journey.

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His first fall

His first fall
The cross he bears is very heavy and Jesus falls.

People stand before the stations and reflect on the scene before them. All fourteen stations should be visited in one journey, and this can take as long or short a time as the person feels they need to reflect.

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He meets Mary

He meets Mary
His mother, Mary meets him on the path.

Each station has prescribed prayers which are recited either silently or out loud. When the reflection is carried out publicly, a devotional song, called Stabat Mater is often sung. This hymn celebrates the emotions of Mary, the mother of Jesus.

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Simon of Cyrene bears the cross for Jesus

Simon of Cyrene bears the cross for Jesus
A man called Simon of Cyrene bears Jesus' cross, on the orders of the soldiers who think Jesus is walking to too slowly.

The numbers of stations were originally varied in number, but the official number is now fourteen.

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Veronica wipes his face

Veronica wipes his face
A woman called Veronica pushes her way to the front of the crowd and wipes Jesus' face. Some say that his face was imprinted on the cloth that she wiped him with as a sign of his gratitude.

The Stations of the Cross were unknown before the fifteenth century, but they became widespread after the seventeenth.

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Jesus falls for a second time

His second fall
Jesus falls for a second time.

Children's versions of the stations have been created. They are often very descriptive of the pain and humiliation that Jesus is believed to have gone through.

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He meets the women of Jerusalem

He meets the women of Jerusalem
The women of Jerusalem are crying. In this station, Jesus is represented as comforting them.

The Stations of the Cross is part of the Roman Catholic, Anglican and Lutheran traditions. People use these images to remind them of Christ's lessons. This one demonstrates selfless thinking.

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He falls for the third time

He falls for the third time
Jesus falls for the third and last time. After seeking the help of God he gets up again. This station is about perseverance.

Although the stations should be visited in one uninterrupted flow, going to mass, communion, or confession are not regarded as interrupting the process.

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Jesus clothes are removed

Jesus's clothes are removed
At the tenth station, Jesus is further humiliated and his clothes are taken away from him.

During the sixteenth century in Europe, manuals were handed out with devotional prayers in them. The prescribed prayers were intended to guide spiritual pilgrims at each station.

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Jesus is crucified

Jesus is crucified
This station represents Jesus being nailed to the cross. Jesus asks God to forgive his tormentors.

It is believed that the Stations of the Cross, and the prayers in the manuals were developed by pious Catholics in Europe, rather than pilgrims who went to Jerusalem.

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Jesus dies on the cross

Jesus dies on the cross
This station remembers that Jesus gave his life for humanity.

In order for a church to erect a set of stations, they must seek permission from someone with the authority, usually the bishop, to do so. The stations are then blessed, by Franciscan Fathers where possible, or delegated to an authorised priest where it is not.

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Jesus is taken down from the cross

Jesus is taken down from the cross
He is supported by his mother.

Ideally, the journey should be contained within the building of the church. However, if a church has scattered some of the stations around its grounds, the journey should at least begin and end in the church.

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Jesus is laid in the tomb

Jesus is laid in the tomb
This is the last station and recalls the wrapping of Jesus in a sheet and placing him in a tomb. A heavy boulder is passed over the entrance of the tomb.

The meditation is usually done during the season of Lent and particularly on Good Friday, although it may be done at any time.

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