Even though St. Alphonus’ is the most popular version, the Stations actually originated with the Franciscans.
The Stations of the Cross originated in the Holy Land as pilgrims went from one notable site to another while visiting Jerusalem. Even though this was a common practice, the Via Crucis didn’t take a standard form until the fifteenth century.
The Franciscans were given guardianship of the holy places in and around Jerusalem in 1342 and it is believed that they developed the Via Crucis over time. The number of stations varied greatly from fourteen to over thirty and the first record of a Way of the Cross, while including fourteen stations, only had five that are currently in use.
During the fifteenth and sixteenth centuries various religious orders built chapels corresponding to the stations and some even attempted to place them at the exact distances apart they would be found in Jerusalem. A book published in 1584 contained twelve stations that match the first twelve stations we have today.
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