The Way of the Cross is a service that has its background in the fourteen "stations" that are marked on the Via Dolorosa in Jerusalem, and which in Catholic churches around the world are marked with fourteen crosses or images.
It is a form of worship that has been used for centuries, especially during Lent and the Passion Season, both communally and for individual devotion. The basis is the passion accounts of the Gospels, expanded with ancient church traditions such as the one about Veronica and the sweat cloth.
French writer Paul Claudel's Way of the Cross devotion, originally published in 1911, is still one of the most loved and used. Here a piety emerges that is at the same time mystical and very concrete.
Gunnel Vallquist writes in the introduction: "Christ's suffering is God's suffering; that God became man in Christ means that man received a share of his divinity. Man's suffering then becomes, if he wants, one with Christ's suffering, which is God's tremendous effort in the fight against evil in the world and a promise of the final victory of good."
The devotion of the Way of the Cross offers an opportunity for a profound identification: the person praying can identify himself either with the executioners, than with the cowardly disciples, than with the indifferent crowd, than with the pityers who stand on the Master's side. And not least with Jesus himself when he repeatedly falls under the weight of the cross.
Translation: Gunnel Vallquist and Olov Hartman