"No remedy can be found equally powerful to heal the wounds of conscience which human weakness daily receives through sin, or to purify the mind and inflame it with Divine Love." -Benedict XIV
Stations of the Cross
Printed by Washbourne
This is a devotion instituted as a means to foster the remembrance of our dear Lord's sufferings, with a view to increase our love for Him, hatred for sin, and the practice of virtue. In all ages devout pilgrims went from all parts to visit Jerusalem and the other holy places sanctified by His Presence or sufferings. Many and great indulgences were granted to encourage them. But though great the number of pilgrims, greater still was the number who wished to make the pilgrimage, but whose circumstances did not allow them. To satisfy their earnest desires, the Church sanctioned the erection of the Stations of the Cross, and attached to the pious exercise the same privileges as are granted those who actually visit the holy places.
This devotion is most profitable to our souls. What can bring before our minds in a more vivid manner God's love for us and for the frightfulness of sin? Who can hate his neighbour when he sees Jesus pray for His enemies? Who can indulge in forbidden pleasures when he sees his Saviour's body mangled from head to foot? Who can murmur in sufferings and trials when Jesus walks before, laden with His Cross? In order to gain the great indulgences, it is necessary to go round to each station, and think piously for a short time on our Lord's sufferings. If the crowd be too large, then all that is necessary is for the priest and the acolytes to proceed from station to station, while the congregation turn towards the priest. It is customary to say a few prayers at each station.
Those found in prayer books are very suitable. Those who by illness, traveling, or other causes, are unable to make the "Way of the Cross" in a church, may get a crucifix indulgenced by a Franciscan Father, and thus gain all the privileges by saying, while holding the crucifix in the hand, fourteen Paters and Aves, followed by five Paters and Aves, in honour of the five wounds of our Lord and one Pater and Ave for the Pope's intentions.
The stations may also be made with spiritual profit by means of the folding booklet of fourteen pictures, which may be purchased for a trifle, but in this case the indulgences cannot be gained.
"Man of sorrows! wrapt in grief,
Bow Thine ear to our relief;
Thou for us the path hath trod
Of the dreadful wrath of God.
By the Cross's royal road
Lead us to the throne of God,
There for aye to sing to Thee
Heaven's triumphant litany."
When this Saint was in his last illness he gave a noble example of calmness and resignation. Practicing what he had taught to others, he suffered the most acute pain with such patience and sweetness that he was never heard to utter the least complaint, nor to express a single desire which was not conformable to the holy will of God. There was ever written in his face the perfect serenity of a soul triumphant over suffering. He took without any apparent repugnance the most disagreeable medicines, submitted himself entirely to his medical advisers, and was constantly saying that his friends did too much for him. Thus, in sickness as in health, St. Francis followed in the steps of his Divine Master, obeying the command which He gave to His Apostles and to all Christians: "I have given you an example, that as I have done so do you also" (John xiii 15).