Cross, Way of The
Cross, Way Of The (Via Crucis), the collective name of a certain number of pictures or stations in or near Roman Catholic churches and sanctuaries, to represent an equal number of events in the history of the Passion of the Savior. Generally the number of the pictures is 14 or 15, but sometimes less. The people who "walk the way of the cross" stop a little while at each picture, reciting a prayer, until they have, in turn, visited every station, and thus completed the commemoration of the Passion. In some Roman Catholic countries, as in Southern Germany, the "Way of the Cross" can be met with in almost every church. This practice was invented by the Franciscan monks, who offered it to the people as a substitute for the pilgrimage to the Holy Land, and justly calculated that, by obtaining numerous indulgences from the popes for those who would adopt this peculiar kind of worship, they would achieve a great popularity for the churches of their order. Their expectation was realized. The popes granted to the visitors of the "Way of the Cross" all the indulgences which had formerly been granted to the visitors of different places in the Holy Land, thus enabling the people to gain in a few minutes several "plenary" indulgences, besides a number of partial. Every "Way of the Cross" must be instituted by a Franciscan monk, and it requires a special permission from the pope if any one who is not a Franciscan is to introduce it. Many special books of devotion have been published for the Via Crucis.