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Pray the Stations of the Cross

An ancient spiritual practice helps us walk with Jesus, to identify with His sufferings on the way to Calvary.

La Ferté-Bernard (France) - Gothic church interior, stained glass window. Thinkstock.

The Stations of the Cross is an ancient spiritual practice among Catholics. It is a devotional path formed from a mixture of Scriptural and traditional sources, depicting the final steps of Jesus on his way to Calvary. Many Roman Catholic church buildings portray the stations on sanctuary walls or in garden settings.

I have had the blessing of praying the stations on the Via Dolorosa in Jerusalem, at a monastery in Kentucky and in numerous churches.

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It is a way of remembering, of walking through the Passion with Jesus, of identifying with Him and His sufferingsa way to “survey the wondrous cross, on which the Prince of Glory died.” Here are three ways to pray through the stations.

Here are three ways to pray through the stations:

1)  Read and pray through the stations as depicted in the work of artist David O’Connell, whose contemporary renderings grace St. Richard’s Church in Chichester, England.

2)  Walk through the stations by means of an online video.

3)  Find a church, monastery, or retreat center that offers the stations and use the following verses and prayers to guide you as you recall Jesus’ great love and sacrifice for you (verses are listed for those stations that are referred to in Scripture):

  • Station I (Jesus is condemned to death.)
    “Thank you for enduring not only intense pain, but severe humiliation for me, Lord.” They led Jesus then from Caiaphas to the Roman governor’s palace (John 18:28, MSG).
  • Station II (Jesus takes up the cross.)
    Carrying his cross, Jesus went out (John 19:17, MSG).

  • Station III (Jesus falls for the first time.)
    “Father, how it must have pierced your holy heart to see your Son under the weight of that cross. Thank you for the suffering you endured as you watched the suffering he endured.”

  • Station IV (Jesus meets his mother.)
    “Jesus, how incredible it is that you watched your mother’s heart break so that my heart could be made new and whole.”

  • Station V (Simon shoulders the cross.)
    There was a man walking by, coming from work, Simon from Cyrene, the father of Alexander and Rufus. They made him carry Jesus’ cross (Mark 15:21, MSG​).

  • Station VI (Veronica wipes Jesus’ face.)
    “Lord, let me minister to you as tradition says Veronica did by helping and healing your Body, the church.”

  • Station VII (Jesus falls again.)
    “Lord, thank you for every step you took for my sake, every spasm of pain, every bead of sweat, every drop of blood.”

  • Station VIII (Jesus consoles the women.)
    At one point Jesus turned to the women and said, “Daughters of Jerusalem, don’t cry for me. Cry for yourselves and for your children” (Luke 23:28, MSG).

  • Station IX (Jesus falls a third time.)
    “Jesus, let the perseverance that drove you all the way to the cross be displayed in me; make me faithful, let me not give up.”

  • Station X (Jesus is stripped of his clothes.)
    “Thank you for enduring not only intense pain, but severe humiliation for me, Lord.”

  • Station XI (Jesus is nailed to the cross.)
    Jesus went out to the place called Skull Hill (the name in Hebrew is Golgotha), where they crucified him, and with him two others, one on each side, Jesus in the middle (John 19:17-18, MSG).

  • Station XII (Jesus dies on the cross.)
    But Jesus, again crying out loudly, breathed his last (Matthew 27:50, MSG​).

  • Station XIII (Jesus is taken down from the cross.)
    [Joseph of Arimathea] went to Pilate and asked for Jesus’ body. Then he took the body down from the cross (Luke 23:52-53, NLT​).

  • Station XIV (Jesus is laid in the tomb.)
    Joseph took the body and wrapped it in clean linens, put it in his own tomb, a new tomb only recently cut into the rock, and rolled a large stone across the entrance (Matthew 27:59-60, MSG​).

Were the whole realm of nature mine,

That were a present far too small;

Love so amazing, so divine,

Demands my soul, my life, my all.

(Isaac Watts)


Have you ever prayed through the Stations of the Cross? What was your experience? Have any of the above suggestions helped you today? If so, please leave a comment below and let me know what you found helpful. 

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