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Taking the Via Dolorosa, here in South Florida

Stations of the Cross replicate Jesus' route to Calvary

PLANTATION | Throughout Lent, but especially on Good Friday, parishioners pray the Stations of the Cross, a series of devotions based on the 14 scenes of Jesus' suffering and death.

The Stations are often rendered as plaques along the walls of a church, painted, carved, sculpted or engraved. At St. Gregory Church, Plantation, they take the form of powerful stained-glass windows.

Each of the Stations stands for an actual spot in Jerusalem, along a street called the Via Dolorosa or Way of Sorrow. The events include Jesus' condemnation by Pilate, the women who wept for him, the three times he fell as he carried his cross, and his crucifixion and burial.

During formal devotions, a priest or other leader pauses at each Station and offers a meditation on the meaning of the event. He may also read the scriptural background to the Stations.

"They are meant to evoke the feeling of what took place at the spots Jesus passed on the way to Calvary," said Father Michael Hoyer, pastor of St. Gregory.

Pilgrims walked the original Stations in Jerusalem at least as early as the fourth century; but as the Turkish Muslims conquered the Middle East, they blocked access to the Holy Land. The Stations were then replicated in individual churches starting in the 15th century, allowing the faithful to make symbolic, spiritual pilgrimages to the holy sites.


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