The Stations of the Cross
This ancient devotional prayer is essentially a meditation on the last moments in the life of Jesus. It is also known as the Via Crucis, Via Dolorosa or The Way of the Cross.
The Basilica has three sets of Stations of the Cross:
- The first set of traditional stations are original to the building. They were designed and sculpted by The McBride Studios from Pietrasanta, Italy, and installed in September, 1926.
- The second set of traditional stations is in the Saint Joseph Chapel. These were donated to The Basilica in 2001 by local artist, Leo Winstead.
- The third set depicts the Biblical Stations inaugurated by Pope John Paul II. These abstract Stations were commissioned by The Basilica to celebrate the beginning of the third Millennium of Christianity. They are mono-prints created by local artist Lucinda Naylor and master printer Steven Anderson.
Stations of the Cross by Lucinda Naylor
All Creatures of our God and King
Our annual St. Francis Festival celebrates the sacredness of all creation. It is held on the first Sunday of October, close to the October 4 Feast of Saint Francis of Assisi.
In the spirit of Saint Francis, the celebration honors animals that share our lives and touch our hearts. It also acknowledges and encourages respect for all of creation.
Animals and humans mingle on the lawns and plaza before entering The Basilica in a grand procession, celebrating creation. The service consists of readings from Scripture, prayers and songs and culminates in a general blessing. After the service individual blessings are available on The Basilica lawn.
Though the Catholic Church maintains the primacy of its official liturgical celebrations such as the Sacraments and the Liturgy of the Hours, other popular practices of piety such as adoration of the Blessed Sacrament, novenas, pilgrimages, Stations of the Cross, the Rosary, processions, etc. are deemed important to our Catholic spiritual life.
Unlike the Sacraments which are always communal celebrations popular devotions can either be celebrated in private or in community.
At The Basilica
At any given time, on any given day people can be found in The Basilica praying the Stations of the Cross, reciting the Rosary, ligthing a candle or praying in front of the Tabernacle. These people are a true testimony to the devotional life of the church.
As a community, we celebrate the Stations of the Cross on the Fridays of Lent; we process with the Blessed Sacrament followed by Benediction on the feast of Corpus Christi and we celebrate the Blessing of Animals.
The early Church
Popular piety holds that Mary, the Mother of Jesus regularly visited some of the scene's of Jesus' passion after his death and resurrection. When Christianity was legalized in 312 pilgrims to the Holy Land started flocking to these same places.
4th - 6th centuries
This devotion was so powerful that local bishops made accommocations for this devotion outside the Holy Land. The bishop of Bologna, e.g. erected a series of chapels dedicated to the holy places in Jerusalem to allow local pilgrims the same experience.
12th century. Devotion to the Stations of the Cross increased dramatically. There was, however, no uniformity in terms of the number and content of the Stations of the Cross
14th century. The Franciscans fostered the popularity of the Stations of the Cross when they took over the care of the sacred sites in Jerusalem in 1342. Still, there was no uniformity in terms of number and content.
18th century. Originally done outdoors, in 1731 Pope Clement XII allowed Stations inside churches. He also set the current number (14) and content of the Stations. Strongly encouraged by Pope Benedict XIV in 1742, the Stations of the Cross soon became a standard feature in all Catholic churches.
20th century. On Good Friday, 1991 Pope John Paul II introduced a new set of Stations of the Cross changing their number to fifteen and making sure that the content of each Station is based on the Gospels. Also, these Stations end with the Resurrection rather than the burial of Jesus which is the case in the Traditional Stations.