The Way of the Holy Cross

For other versions of this work, see Stations of the Cross.
The Way of the Holy Cross  (1850) 
by Arthur Martin, translated by John Moore




A Method of Performing the Devotion






Permissu superiorum.




The Way of the Cross means that space of ground which was travelled over by our Blessed Saviour, from the Governor's Hall, where he was condemned, to the top of Mount Calvary, where he finally expired upon that instrument of martyrdom; and the exercise of the way of the Cross consists in following this Divine Model along the traces which His blood has left, and meditating, meanwhile, upon the sufferings which his love caused Him to undergo there for our sake.

According to a very credible tradition, this pious practice may be traced back to the earliest period of the Church, and the august Mother of God is said to have been the first to set the example. "During her latter years," says St. Andrew, of Crete, "she used to frequent incessantly those places where her Divine Son had been loaded with contumely and nailed to the cross." But why seek for written testimony? Doomed to sojourn as an exile upon the earth, away from Him, in whom she loved at once her Son and her God, how could her affectionate heart have been satisfied if she had not visited again and again the spots consecrated by the most memorable events in the life of her Beloved?—and Calvary, above all, where, standing by His side, she had sustained those inward sufferings which have caused her to be styled the Queen of Martyrs? How often must she have been seen, in the evening of her days, musing, with weeping eyes, along the road where her Son had passed, bearing the load of His cross!—and standing, overwhelmed with grief, on the heights where He expired! Fond and inconsolable Parent, she saw Him yet hanging by His wounded hands, His head crowned with thorns, His body mangled, pale, agonizing and dying, and in His agony casting a look from His dying eyes on her. It was here that she caught His last sigh—here, that she had seen the lance enter His heart—here, that she had received into her arms, and clasped to her bosom, His sacred body weltering in its blood. How could she do otherwise than recur often to such scenes, kissing, a thousand times, the earth which had been reddened with His blood, and watering it incessantly with her tears?

How, also, must St. John and the holy women have accompanied the Mother of sorrows, and in these same spots, mingled their tears with hers! The Apostles too, must they not have followed in the same track, when by the descent of the Holy Ghost, they had been changed into other men? In their burning love for their good Master, could they have chosen a more fitting place of resort, than that in which he had expired, abandoned by them all? Especially when the thought of bewailing their base ingratitude, and of animating themselves to embrace sufferings and death, if they could only propagate the knowledge and the love of Him in the hearts of men? The first Christians, also, even those who lived at a great distance from Jerusalem, were naturally impatient to contemplate spots where such mysteries had been accomplished, and to learn from eye witnesses every circumstance of their Lord's agony; thereby to nourish their own and their children's piety, with the most important events that had ever taken place.

From that time, a pilgrimage to Calvary became the favourite devotion of the faithful. Even during the sanguinary persecutions, which extended over the three first centuries, illustrious pilgrims, such as St. Alexander, St. Ephrem and St. Eustachius, were seen running in crowds to the holy Sepulchre.

"It would be too long to recount," says St. Jerome, the "names of all the bishops, of all the martyrs, of all the famous doctors who have flocked to Jerusalem, from year to year, from our Lord's Ascension to this day. The most illustrious persons in Gaul came here: Christians from the centre of Britain, from the farthest extremities of the West, leave their homes that they may view here the spots, with which pious letters and the veneration of whole kingdoms have made them familiar. What shall I say of the Armenians, the Persians, the Indians, the people of Ethiopia and Egypt, amongst whom holy solitaries are so numerous? Of the multitudes from Pontus, Cappadocia, Syria, Mesopotamia, and the whole East, who flock here to edify us by their devotion. They all differ in language, but the piety of all of them is the same. Each nation forms a separate choir to resound the praises of God." The Saint goes still further, and declares in a letter to Desiderus, that "a man thought himself only half a Christian until he had worshipped his Lord upon the soil which His divine feet had trod." Still, numberless as were the pilgrims who undertook annually the painful and oftentimes dangerous expedition to the Holy Land, there were nevertheless many thousands who sighed devoutly for the privileges which their circumstances did not allow them to enjoy. Deprived, however, of the chance of ever seeing the holy places, they wished to behold, at least, the representation of them; and thus, without quitting their country, to honour their Lord's Passion, by commemorating its mysteries in the same way as they would have done on the very soil where those mysteries were accomplished. The order of St. Francis, to which St. Louis had given the Holy Sepulchre in charge, and the members of which conducted the Stations of the pilgrims on their arrival in Jerusalem, encouraged this pious feeling in every way. They erected Calvaries in various places, surrounded them with Stations, or pictures representing the chief circumstances of our Lord's last painful journey, and summoned the faithful to crowd about them, to listen to, and meditate upon the recital of the sad tragedy. Wheresoever this exercise was introduced, faith was seen to revive, morals to improve, the love of Jesus Christ to be re-kindled in the soul; so that the Sovereign Pontiffs, who had already attached abundant grants of indulgences to the real Stations of our Lord's Passion, did not hesitate to extend the same to these representations of them.

Such is the origin of the Way of the Cross, or the Stations of the Passion, but for gaining the Indulgences, the three following conditions must be complied with.

1.—We must meditate and pray for a few moments, at each of the Fourteen Stations which have been canonically set up; or, if incapable of meditating, we must, at least, bring before our attention one of the circumstances of the Passion, and excite ourselves to sorrow for our sins.

2.—We must perform the devotion of each Station on a different spot, unless infirmity or the crowded state of the church renders it impossible to move from place to place.

3.—We must go through all the Stations on the same day, though it is not necessary to go through them at once without interruption.

It is desirable, but not of obligation, to repeat at every Station, the Pater, Ave, and Gloria, together with the little prayer for the faithful departed—May the souls, &c.




Those who are about to perform the Stations, should begin by placing themselves on their knees before the Blessed Sacrament, calling to mind, with a lively faith, the moment in which Jesus Christ, having been blasphemed at the house of Caiphas, and derided at the house of Herod, is expecting to receive the sentence of death in the Court of Pilate: then stationing themselves at his sacred feet, they should make an Act of Contrition for their sins, and an Offering of the devotion which they are going to begin.

An Act of Contrition.

Oh my God, I am filled with grief, and humbly beg thy pardon for my past offences, because Thou art infinitely good, infinitely amiable, and because sin is infinitely displeasing to Thee. By the assistance of Thy holy grace, I promise rather to die than offend Thee wilfully any more

An Act of Oblation.

Vouchsafe to accept, Oh Lord Jesus Christ, the exercise which I am about to perform. To Thy Sovereign Majesty do I offer it, in honour of thy dolorous Passion, for the relief of the souls in Purgatory, for the peace of Thy Holy Church, for my friends and for my enemies; that I may obtain the pardon of my sins, the remission of the punishment which they have deserved, and the grace of final perseverance until death: who livest and reignest God, world without end. Amen.


V. Domine labia mea aperies.

V. O Lord, open Thou my lips.

R. Et os meum annunciabit laudem tuam.

R. And my mouth shall declare thy praise.

V. Deus in adjutorium meum intende.

V. Oh God, incline unto mine aid.

R. Domine ad adjuvandum me festina.

R. Oh Lord, make haste to help me.

Gloria Patri, et Filio, et Spiritui Sancto. Sicut erat in principio, et nunc, et semper, et in sæcula sæculorum. Amen.

Glory be to the Father, and to the Son, and to the Holy Ghost. As it was in the beginning, is now, and ever shall be, world without end. Amen.

Alleluia, or

Laus tibi Domine, Rex æternæ gloriæ.

Alleluia, or
Praise be to Thee, Oh Lord, King of eternal glory.


V. Adoramus te Christe, et benedicimus tibi.

V. We adore Thee, oh Christ, and we bless Thee.

R. Quia per sanctam crucem tuam redemisti mundum.

R. Because, by Thy holy Cross, Thou hast redeemed the world.

(This Versicle and Response are said or sung before each Station.)

Jesus is condemned to death.

Leaving the house of Caiphas, where he had been blasphemed, and the house of Herod, where he had been treated as a fool, Jesus is dragged before Pilate, His back torn with scourges, His head crowned with thorns: and He, who on the last day will judge the living and the dead, is Himself condemned to a disgraceful death.

Dearest Saviour! it was my sins which condemned Thee! it was to save me from the flames of hell, that Thou didst choose to die upon the Cross. Oh! by that inconceivable love, grant that my journey towards death and eternity may resemble the pilgrimage which Thou didst here begin towards Calvary and Heaven.

The Act of Contrition.

(This Act of Contrition, with the accompanying prayers, &c. is repeated at each Station.)

Oh my God! I love Thee, and grieve that I have ever offended Thee: let me never offend Thee more. Oh may I love Thee without ceasing, and make it my delight to do in all things Thy most blessed will.

V. Miserere nostri Domine.

V. Have mercy on us, oh Lord.

R. Miserere nostri.

R. Have mercy on us.

V. Fidelium animæ, per misericordiam Dei, requiescant in pace.

V. May the souls of the faithful departed, through the mercy of God, rest in peace.

R. Amen.

R. Amen.

Sancta Mater, istud agas,
Crucifixi fige plagas
Cordi meo valide.

Holy Mother, do Thou
Fix the wounds of the Crucified
Deep in my heart.



Adoramus &c.

We adore Thee, &c.

Jesus has the Cross laid upon his Shoulders.

A heavy cross is here laid upon the bruised shoulders of Jesus Christ. He receives it with joy, He carries it with unspeakable love, for it is the instrument by which he is to redeem the world.

Oh Jesus! grant me, by virtue, of Thy cross, a loving and generous heart like Thine: and cause me to embrace with courage the difficulties of my state, and to esteem, love and sanctify all the crosses which I am obliged to bear.

The Act of Contrition. Page 17.


Adoramus, &c.

We adore Thee, &c.

Jesus falls the first time under the Cross.

Bowed down by the weight of his cross, which he nevertheless bears as cheerfully as he had accepted it, Jesus advances amidst an infuriated rabble, whose insolent taunts serve only to inflame His love: but, as the blood trickles from His wounds, His strength fails Him, and he sinks exhausted on the ground.

Thou didst fall under the load of Thy cross, Oh my Jesus, to expiate my sinful falls. Oh! by the merits of that painful fall, may I never again relapse into mortal sin.

The Act of Contrition, Page 17.


Adoramus, &c.

We adore Thee, &c.

Jesus is met by his Blessed Mother.

How could an affectionate Mother absent herself from the sufferings of her afflicted Son? How could Mary be away, while Jesus was in such anguish? But what must have been the feelings of both the Mother and the Son, when they first met each other on this way of the cross!

Oh Jesus! by the compassion which Thou didst then feel for Thy tender Mother, give me grace to have a true devotion towards her. And thou, most afflicted Mother, obtain for me the favour of sharing with Thee the sufferings of my Saviour.

The Act of Contrition. Page 17.


Adoramus, &c.

We adore Thee, &c.

Jesus is assisted in carrying his Cross by Simon of Cyrene.

Afraid lest the weakness of their victim should prevent Him from undergoing all that their cruelty had ordained, the executioners of Jesus give Him some relief. They compel Simon of Cyrene to assist Him in carrying his cross: but the virtue of the cross changes his heart, and from a compulsory task it becomes a delightful occupation.

Oh Jesus! may the place of that stranger be mine. I will never refuse Thy cross. What part so ever of thy sufferings Thou dost destine for me, I accept with confidence, submission, and love. Especially do I resign myself to death and its agonies. I desire to die for Thee, who didst die for me.

The Act of Contrition. Page 17.


Adoramus, &c.

We adore Thee, &c.

A pious woman wipes with a veil the face of Jesus.

As Jesus proceeds along covered with the sweat of death, a woman, moved with compassion, makes her way through the crowd of soldiers, and wipes His face. In reward of her piety, the impression of His divine countenance is left upon the veil.

Oh Thou, the most comely amongst the sons of men! behold, in the state to which Thy mangled body is reduced, an image of what my soul, formed to Thy resemblance, adorned with Thy especial graces, has been made by sin. Purify it, my God, more and more from its filthy stains, restore it to its lost beauty, and let Thy divine image again be seen within me.

The Act of Contrition. Page 17.


Adoramus, &c.

We adore Thee, &c.

Jesus falls under the Cross a second time.

Jesus proceeds, the blood still flowing from Him, and his anguish and pains increasing at every step. Again His strength fails Him; again He falls to the ground, re-opening, by the shock, all His wounds, and causing them to smart afresh.

Thou didst fall again, oh my Jesus, to expiate my repeated and shameful falls. How often hast Thou pardoned me! and yet I have relapsed, with base ingratitude, into the same crimes. Give me grace, I beseech Thee, by virtue of this Thy second fall, to persevere henceforth in serving Thee until my last hour.

The Act of Contrition. Page 17.


Adoramus, &c.

We adore Thee, &c.

Jesus consoles the women from Jerusalem.

Jesus, lifting up His eyes, sees, amidst the rabble who were savagely thirsting for his blood, some holy women shedding floods of tears. At the sight of them, forgetting His own unparalleled afflictions, he exclaims: "Daughters of Jerusalem, weep not for me, but for yourselves and for your children."

Oh my God, I will lament over myself, and the misfortunes which I have brought upon myself by offending Thee: but I will likewise lament over Thee, from whom I have extorted tears so often, and who hast loved me, so as to lay down Thy life that I might be saved from hell.

The Act of Contrition. Page 17.


Adoramus, &c.

We adore Thee, &c.

Jesus falls under the Cross the third time.

Jesus has nearly reached the fatal spot,—a noisy mob pressing upon Him from behind, His brutal executioners violently dragging Him on before,—when, so weak has he become by the loss of blood which is streaming from His many wounds, and by the load of anguish which presses upon His soul, that, for the third time, He falls prostrate upon the ground.

Oh my God, I entreat Thee, by the merits of this third most painful fall, to pardon me, not only my individual sins and frequent relapses, but also my long continuance in sin, my repeated infidelities to grace, and my base cowardice in thy service.

The Act of Contrition. Page 17.


Adoramus, &c.

We adore Thee, &c.

Jesus is stripped of his clothes.

The divine Victim being arrived at the place of sacrifice, His garments, though sticking to his wounds, are violently torn off by His barbarous tormentors. Behold the Saint of Saints stripped in the sight of an obscene multitude, and standing there covered with ignomy and shame.

Thus, Oh Jesus! didst thou expiate the infamous deeds of men. Oh, by that shame more sensibly felt by Thee than all Thy other tortures, give me grace to prevent, by timely repentance, the shame of that last and most terrible day, when Thou wilt lay open to the gaze of angels and of men all the turpitude of the sinner.

The Act of Contrition. Page 17.


Adoramus, &c.

We adore Thee, &c.

Jesus is nailed to the Cross.

The cross is laid upon the ground, and Jesus is stretched upon his bed of death. At one and the same time, He offers His bruised limbs to His heavenly Father in behalf of sinful man, and to His fierce executioners to be nailed by them to the disgraceful wood. The blows are struck! the blood gushes forth!

Oh Jesus! nailed to the cross, fasten my heart there also, that it may be united to Thee until death shall strike me with its fatal blow, and with my last breath I shall have yielded up my soul to Thee.

The Act of Contrition. Page 17.


Adoramus, &c.

We adore Thee, &c.

Jesus dies upon the Cross.

For three hours has Jesus hung upon his transfixed hands: His blood has run streaming down His body and bedewing the ground; and, in the midst of excruciating sufferings, He has pardoned his murderers, promised the bliss of Paradise to the good thief, and committed His blessed Mother and beloved disciple to each others care. All is now consummated: and meekly bowing down His head, He gives up the ghost.

Oh Jesus! I devoutly embrace that honoured cross, whereon thou didst love me even unto death. In that death I place all my confidence. Henceforth let me live only for Thee, and in dying for Thee, let me die loving Thee, and in thy sacred arms.

The Act of Contrition. Page 17.


Adoramus, &c.

We adore Thee, &c.

Jesus is laid in the arms of his Blessed Mother.

The multitudes have left the heights of Calvary, and none remain, save the beloved disciple and the holy women, who, at the foot of the cross, are striving to stem the grief of Christ's inconsolable Mother, when Joseph of Aramathea and Nicodemus unfasten the body of her divine Son, and deposit it in her arms.

Oh Thou, whose grief was boundless as an ocean that hath no limits, Mary, Mother of God, forgive me the injuries which I have inflicted upon thee, and compassionate the wounds of my soul, as thou didst compassionate the wounds of thy dear Son. Be thou also a Mother and show thyself a Mother to me.

The Act of Contrition. Page 17.


Adoramus, &c.

We adore Thee, &c.

Jesus is laid in the Sepulchre.

The body of the dearly beloved Son is taken from his Mother and laid by the disciples in the tomb. The tomb is closed, and there, cold and motionless, lies the lifeless body, until the hour of its glorious resurrection comes.

I too, my God, will descend into the grave whenever it shall please Thee, as it shall please Thee, and wheresoever it shall please Thee. Let Thy just decrees be fulfilled in my regard; let my sinful body return to its parent dust: but do Thou, in Thy great mercy, receive my immortal soul, and when my body has risen again, place it likewise in Thy kingdom, that I may love and bless Thee for ever and ever. Amen.

The Act of Contrition. Page 17.

[When the Stations are solemnly performed, they should be concluded, either by the Benediction of the Blessed Sacrament, or by that of the Cross of the Passion.]


Benediction of the Blessed Sacrament.

Tantum ergo Sacramentum,
Veneremur cernui;
Et antiquum documentum,
Novo cedat ritui:
Præstet fides supplementum,
Sensuum defectui.

To this mysterious table now,
Our knees, our hearts, and sense we bow;
Let ancient rites resign their place
To nobler elements of grace:
And faith for all defects supply,
Whilst sense is lost in mystery.

Genitori genitoque,
Laus et jubilatio:
Salus, honor, virtus quoque,
Sit et benedictio:
Procedenti ab utroque,
Cmpar sit laudatio. Amen.

To God the Father, born of none,
To Christ his co-eternal Son,
And Holy Ghost, whose equal rays,
From both proceed, be equal praise:
One honour, jubilee, and fame,
For ever bless his glorious name. Amen.

V. Panem de cœlo præstitisti eis.
R. Omne delectamentum in se habentem.

V. Thou gavest them bread from heaven.
R. Having in it all that is delicious.


Let us pray.

DEUS qui nobis, sub sacramento mirabili,passionis tuæ memoriam reliquisti: tribue quæsumus, ita nos corporis et sanguinis tui, sacra mysteria venerari ut redemptionis tui fructum in nobis jugitur sentiamus. Qui vivis et regnas in sæcula sæculorum. Amen.

O GOD, who in this wonderful sacrament has left us a memorial of Thy passion: grant us, we beseech Thee so to reverence the sacred mysteries of Thy body & blood, that we may ever perceive within us the fruit of thy redemption, Who livest, &c. Amen.

V. Parce Domine, parce populo tuo.

V. Spare, oh Lord, spare Thy people.

R. Ne in æsternum irascaris nobis.

R. And be not angry with us forever.

(The above versicle and response to be repeated three times.)

V. Pie Jesu, dona eis requiem,

V. Oh merciful Jesus, give them rest,

R. Sempiternam.

R. For ever and ever.

The Benediction is then given, after which the following Antiphon and Prayer are sung.

Ant. Christus factus est pro nobis obediens usque ad mortem, mortern autem cruces.

Ant. Christ was made for us obedient unto death, even the death of the cross.


Let us pray.

Respice, quæsumus Domine, super hanc familiam tuam, pro qua noster Jesus Christus non dubitavit manibus tradi nocentium, et crucis subire tormentum. Qui vivis et regnas in sæcula sæculorum.

Look down, oh Lord, we beseech Thee, upon this Thy family, for which our Lord Jesus Christ vouchsafed to be delivered into the hands of the wicked, and suffer the torments of the cross. Who livest, and reignest for ever and ever.



[When the Benediction is given with the Cross of the Passion, the following order is to he observed.]


Benediction with the Cross of the Passion.

Cantor. Jube, Domne, benedicere.

Cantor. Invoke, Rev. Father, a blessing.

Priest. Benedicat vos Dominus noster Jesus qui pro nobis flagellatus est, crucem portavit et fuit crucifixus.

Priest. May our Lord Jesus Christ bless us, who for us was scourged, loaded with his cross and crucified.

V. Amen.

R. Amen.

In the mean time the Priest blesses the people with the Cross, and then concludes with the foregoing Antiphon and Prayer, namely, Christus factus est, page 34.


Printed by M. Maher, 5, Congreve-street, Birmingham.

Copyright.svg PD-icon.svg This work is a translation and has a separate copyright status to the applicable copyright protections of the original content.

This work was published before January 1, 1926, and is in the public domain worldwide because the author died at least 100 years ago.


This work was published before January 1, 1926, and is in the public domain worldwide because the author died at least 100 years ago.