Stations of the Cross

The Stations of the Cross are a feature found at different pilgrimage sites. They are a Christian devotional practice that allows participants to retrace the events surrounding the death of Jesus Christ on Good Friday through prayers at 14 (15 in contemporary Catholicism) ‘stations’. At different holy wells and sites I’ve visited, the actual ‘Stations’ (plaques, crosses, icons) seem to be relatively recent additions.

The inclusion of the Stations in these spaces, which in some cases pre-date the popularisation of the practice in the medieval period, may have numerous functions. They can provide a focus for those who are unsure of other devotions associated with a site or for spaces that have no clear traditions; however, it could be suggested that they also represent attempts to bring the performances into more orthodox realms.

Regardless, the Stations serve as the basis for individual and communal worship and prayer at these sites. The are an optional devotion for pilgrims/visitors; while also being the main activity in some places, such as feast days at Máméan, Connemara.

St Olan's Well, Aghabullogue, Cork: the Stations can be seen in the background circling the side and rear of the site.

St Olan’s Well, Aghabullogue, Cork: the Stations can be seen in the background circling the side and rear of the site.

St Fanahan's Well, Mitchelstown, Cork: the Stations, a series of small crosses, are on the inner side of the oval path behind the well.

St Fanahan’s Well, Mitchelstown, Cork: the Stations, a series of small crosses, are on the inner side of the oval path behind the well.

Máméan, Connemara: Pilgrims, led by the cross, complete the Stations on the traditional August pilgrimage day.

Máméan, Connemara: Pilgrims, led by the cross, complete the Stations on the traditional August pilgrimage day.

Related: 

Ireland’s Holy Wells Blog‘s post on St Patrick’s Well, Clonmel offers some thoughts on the Stations of the Cross at that site.

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