RIO DE JANEIRO — Pope Francis was participating Friday in a Stations of the Cross procession, among the most popular and solemn Catholic rituals, at Copacabana beach in Rio de Janeiro.
Also known as the Way of the Cross, Via Crucis and Via Dolorosa, the Stations of the Cross are built around reflections on Jesus’ last steps leading up to his crucifixion and death. The procession can be done anytime, but is most commonly done during the Lenten season leading up to Easter, especially on Good Friday.
The object of the service is to allow participants to make a spiritual pilgrimage to the chief scenes of Jesus’ suffering and death, known as stations, which are generally marked by pictures or tableaux of the incidents. In Catholic churches, such stations depicting the Passion of Christ are typically ranged at intervals around the inside walls.
In performing the Stations of the Cross, the faithful pass from station to station, stopping at each to pray and mediate.
In the version of the Stations of the Cross that Francis was participating in, the mediations were composed to reflect the concerns and issues facing young people, such as drug addiction, premarital sex, abortion, and the proper uses of social media. They also touched on the suffering of the impoverished and downtrodden.
A rundown of the traditional stations:
1. Jesus is condemned to death
2. Jesus carries the cross
3. Jesus falls for the first time
4. Jesus meets his mother
5. Simon of Cyrene helps Jesus carry the cross
6. Jesus’ face is wiped by Veronica
7. Jesus falls for the second time
8. Jesus consoles the women of Jerusalem
9. Jesus falls for the third time
10. Jesus is stripped of his clothes
11. Jesus is nailed to the cross
12. Jesus dies on the cross
13. Jesus is taken down from the cross
14. Jesus is laid in the tomb.