Franciscan Footprints

Blessing of Outdoor StationsThis past summer, and into the fall, our convent patio received a much-needed renovation, as the edges of it were starting to crumble into the “drop-off” behind the backyard.  Included in the repair are new outdoor Stations of the Cross.  OSF Chaplain, Father Edward Kopec, blessed the stations for us on November 5.

Before I became a postulant, Stations of the Cross, also called The Way of the Cross, Via Crucis, and Via Dolorosa, were something I prayed only during Lent.  Now, as a part of our prayer life, I have increased my devotion to the Passion of Christ.  The Sisters of the Third Order of Saint Francis meditate upon our Lord’s suffering and death by praying the Stations of the Cross at least twice each week.  After the Stations, we pray for the Holy Father’s intentions with outstretched arms.  In honor of our Lord’s bitter passion and death, we also pray, on Fridays, following Evening Prayer, five Our Fathers, five Hail Marys, and a Glory Be, again, with outstretched arms.

Since the days of Constantine, the sites of Jesus’ way to Calvary were visited by pilgrims in Jerusalem, to follow the footsteps of Christ in His sorrowful journey.  St. Francis of Assisi, during his own life, was known for his devotion to Christ’s sufferings. The Franciscans spread this zeal for Christ’s passion and they became key to the development of visiting the Way of the Cross when, in 1343, they acquired custody of the sacred sites of Jerusalem1. The development of the Stations inside churches did not become common until the end of the 1600’s, when a Franciscan, St. Leonard of Port Maurice (1676-1751,) whose feast day is Nov 26, expressed his zeal for the Stations and increased its popularity2.  He became known as the "preacher of the way of the cross." “Besides the celebrated stations in the Coliseum at Rome, St. Leonard erected 571 others in all parts of Italy, while on his different missions3.”

There are several indulgences associated with visiting the sacred sites in Jerusalem, and, in 1686, “Pope Innocent XI approved the Franciscans to the exclusive right to build stations and, in addition, attached the same indulgence to making the stations as to visiting the sacred sites in Jerusalem. While the Franciscans maintained a monopoly on erecting stations for many years, in 1731 Pope Clement XII extended the right to non-Franciscan churches1.”

St. Leonard also spread devotion to the perpetual adoration of the Blessed Sacrament and fostered devotion to the Immaculate Conception of the Blessed Virgin.  He is the patron saint of parish missions.

St Leonard of Port Maurice

We have an image of St. Leonard of Port Maurice in the hallway leading to our OSF Saint Francis Medical Center main chapel.     -->        

As a Novice, I now have several options to make the Stations: in our small convent chapel, our new outdoor stations, the hospital main chapel, plus another three sets of Stations when I am visiting our Motherhouse.

1 Koenig-Bricker, Woodeene. "Via Dolorosa: The Origins of the Stations of the Cross." OSV Newseeekly. Our Sunday Visitor, 1 Jan. 2009. Web. Retrieved November 22, 2016.
2 Alston, G.C. (1912). “Way of the Cross.” In The Catholic Encyclopedia. New York: Robert Appleton Company. Web. Retrieved November 22, 2016 from New Advent:
3Bihl, M. (1910). St. Leonard of Port Maurice. In The Catholic Encyclopedia. New York: Robert Appleton Company. Retrieved November 22, 2016 from New Advent:

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