Before going to a fish fry on Fridays (or at least, on most Fridays), the Louisville Fish Fry Crew goes to St. Louis Bertrand in downtown Louisville to pray the Stations of the Cross. This Friday tradition, which can also be known as “The Way of the Cross” or “Via Dolorosa,” is a journey of Christ’s journey on the day of His passion, from his condemnation of death to his burial in the tomb.
The Stations of the Cross, which is primarily based in the Scripture, was implemented as a way for faithful Christians who could not make the journey to Jerusalem for pilgrimage along the actual Way of the Cross to pray and meditate on the Passion. Catholic churches would set up 14 images, or “stations,” within the church to allow for the devoted to pray and reflect on the final day of Christ’s life on Earth. (NOTE: The Stations have also been set in outdoor settings as well. A great example is at the Basilica of the National Shrine of Mary Help of Christians, commonly called Holy Hill, where the Stations are prayed, appropriately, by walking up a large hill.) Catholic Churches will now offer the Stations of the Cross during Lent, typically on Fridays.
There are numerous versions of reflections that Catholics may pray and read while praying the Stations. At St. Louis Bertrand, the Dominicans use the Way of the Cross written by St. Alphonsus Liguori. The format of each Station go as follows:
- Sing a verse of Stabat Mater (At the Cross her station keeping…)
- Priest and congregation says an English version of the Adoremus Te, genuflecting (Priest says “We adore you, O Christ, and we praise you.” Congregation responds “Because by your Holy Cross, You have redeemed the world.”)
- Priest reads meditation, all are standing.
- All kneel and read a response to the meditation together.
- Station finishes with an Our Father, Hail Mary, and Glory Be.
- Walk to next Station while singing next verse of Stabat Mater.
This tradition is a strong recommendation for not just Catholics, but all Christians because of the Scriptural basis for the Stations themselves, reminding us of why Jesus died on the Cross.
Below is a gallery of the 14 Stations (photos from St. Louis Bertrand):
1st Station: Jesus is condemned to death.
2nd Station: Jesus takes up the Cross.
3rd Station: Jesus falls the first time.
4th Station: Jesus meets His mother.
5th Station: Simon of Cyrene helps Jesus carry the cross.
6th Station: Veronica wipes the face of Jesus.
7th Station: Jesus falls the second time.
8th Station: Jesus meets the women of Jerusalem.
9th Station: Jesus falls the third time.
10th Station: Jesus is stripped of His garments.
11th Station: Jesus is nailed to the Cross.
12th Station: Jesus dies on the Cross.
13th Station: Jesus is taken down from the Cross.
14th Station: Jesus is laid in the sepulchre.