The Stations of the Cross

Taken from Common Worship, Church of England 2001

Combined ShapePathNews and EventsPathNews

The Stations of the Cross

Taken from Common Worship, Church of England 2001

The Stations of the Cross have formed part of Christian devotion at Passiontide for many centuries because they enable us to engage actively with the path of suffering walked by Jesus. They originated when early Christians visited Jerusalem and wanted to follow literally in the footsteps of Jesus, tracing the path from Pilate’s house to Calvary. They would pause for prayer and devotion at various points. Eventually those pilgrims brought the practice back to their home countries and ever since then Christians of differing traditions have used this form of devotion.

In the late fourteenth century the Franciscans were given the responsibility for the holy places of Jerusalem and they erected tableaux to aid the devotion of the visitors. These kinds of images are now commonplace inside churches, and occasionally outside them.

The number of stations has varied immensely through the centuries from as few as five to as many as thirty-six, but the now traditional number of fourteen was established by Clement XII in 1731 – nine scriptural stations and a further five based on popular devotion. However, owing to the increasing ecumenical popularity of this devotion there have been attempts to create a wholly scriptural set on which to focus.

The selection of stations presented here all have their root in the biblical story of Jesus rather than drawing on legend or popular, yet unscriptural, stories. This development makes the Stations of the Cross more accessible to all traditions within the Christian Church.

The recent rediscovery of the unity of the death and resurrection of Jesus has also led to the inclusion of a fifteenth station – the Resurrection. Though this may be superseded by the emergence of the Stations of the Resurrection as part of popular devotion, it is strongly suggested that this station be included, especially if the stations are used outside Lent and Passiontide. The stations may be used as a focus for personal prayer or as part of a liturgical celebration.


  • An order of service for the traditional version of the Stations of the Cross can be found here and is authorised for use in public worship.
  • A biblical version of the Stations of the Cross can be found here: Church of England
  • An audio version of the biblical Stations of the Cross led by Paula Gooder, Stephen Cottrell and Philip North can be accessed for free on Spotify

In other news...