Expert Answer Forum
Stations of the Cross QUESTION from Jerome Quigley October 17, 2000 My question concerns the Stations of the cross.
In accordance with the Enchiridion of Indulgences 1968, article 63:
The gaining of the plenary indulgence is regulated by the following norms: The pious exercise must be made before stations of the Way of the Cross legitimately erected.
My question is, what specifically is meant by legitimately erected. I have read in the old Catholic Encyclopedia that in the late 1800's this meant that the stations had to have been established by a Francisican with approval.... and that the cross associated with the station had to be made of wood... I realize that this is a tough question, but I need to know the precise meaning of legitimately erected and the requirements for the physical stations themselves. My purpose here is two fold. First I would like to erect a set of stations on my property and would want them to have the Indulgence attached to them. Second, I would like to make stations of the cross for others and I want to make them in accordance with the prescribed methods. Please help.
ANSWER by John-Paul Ignatius, O.L.S.M. on December 17, 2000 Dear Mr. Quigley:
All that is required of the stations is a wooden cross. The depicted scenes are not required. As far as I can find, the only requirements of materials is that the cross be wooden. The depicted scenes could be made of any material. Thus there is no problem in you making your own stations and giving them away or selling them. If you do produce the Stations, please consider giving a set to us.
Originally the Stations were granted to the Franciscans, but to encourage the devotion generally, the Church eventually allowed the erection of the Stations without a Franciscan Friar doing it.
As far as I know the following are the principal regulations universally in force, and still in effect at the present time with regard to the Stations:
If a pastor or a superior of a convent, hospital, etc., wishes to have the Stations erected in their places he must ask permission of the bishop. If there are Franciscan Fathers in the same town or city, their superior must be asked to bless the Stations or delegate some priest either of his own monastery or a secular priest. If there are no Franciscan Fathers in that place the bishops who have obtained from the Holy See the extraordinary of Form C can delegate any priest to erect the Stations. This delegation of a certain priest for the blessing of the Stations must necessarily be done in writing. The pastor of such a church, or the superior of such a hospital, convent, etc., should take care to sign the document the bishop or the superior of the monastery sends, so that he may thereby express his consent to have the Stations erected in their place, for the bishop's and the respective pastor's or superior's consent must be had before the Stations are blessed, otherwise the blessing is null and void;
Pictures or tableaux of the various Stations are not necessary. It is to the cross placed over them that the indulgence is attached. These crosses must be of wood; no other material will do. If only painted on the wall the erection is null (Cong. Ind., 1837, 1838, 1845);
If, for restoring the church, for placing them in a more convenient position, or for any other reasonable cause, the crosses are moved, this may be done without the indulgence being lost (1845). If any of the crosses, for some reason, have to be replaced, no fresh blessing is required, unless more than half of them are so replaced (1839).
There should if possible be a separate meditation on each of the fourteen incidents of the Via Crucis, not a general meditation on the Passion nor on other incidents not included in the Stations. No particular prayers are ordered;
The distance required between the Stations is not defined. Even when only the clergy move from one Station to another the faithful can still gain the indulgence without moving;
It is necessary to make all the Stations uninterruptedly (S.C.I., 22 January, 1858). Hearing Mass or going to Confession or Communion between Stations is not considered an interruption. According to many the Stations may be made more than once on the same day, the indulgence may be gained each time; but this is by no means certain (S.C.I., 10 Sept., 1883). Confession and Communion on the day of making the Stations are not necessary provided the person making them is in a state of grace;
Ordinarily the Stations should be erected within a church or public oratory. If the Via Crucis goes outside, e.g., in a cemetery or cloister, it should if possible begin and end in the church
We are moving St. Michael House to South Dakota in the Spring. The property up there is such that we would like to erect an outdoor version of the Stations of the Cross. Should you create an outdoor version of the Stations, we would be interested in procuring a set.
Thanks and God Bless.
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