History of Stations of the Cross
As early as the fourth century, it was the custom during Passiontide for Christian pilgrims in Jerusalem to walk the "Via Dolorosa", the traditional route from Pilate’s house to Calvary, meditating on the events of Good Friday at the different places associated with them.

In the Middle Ages, the practice of making a symbolic pilgrimage around the church or the churchyard arose (at times when a physical pilgrimage was impossible because of the Moslem occupation of the Holy Land), and developed into our "Stations of the Cross".

Of the Fourteen Stations, some have only the authority of tradition, like the Meeting with Mary and the Meeting with Veronica. Three as the number of falls is probably an arbitrary choice.

In the present form of service, there is an acclamation (All glory be to thee, O Christ) followed by two linked or contrasted scripture readings, then, after a moment of contemplation, the Lord’s Prayer, the Hail Mary, the Glory, and a verse of the hymn Stabat Mater.

The second reading is always a saying of Our Lord ("Jesus said…")

The first reading is usually from the Old Testament, and often describes the sufferings which are seen as "types" or "foreshadowings" of the sufferings of Christ - the Afflicted Poor Man of the Psalms, the Suffering Servant of Isaiah 40 et seq, Jerusalem Desolate of Lamentations. At Station 12, there is a deliberate contrast between the Old Testament’s rather gloomy view of death, and the Christian hope of immortality. At Station 14 we are reminded that this story and this journey which we commemorate is our own story and our own journey.

It is impossible for us to conceive of what was going on in Jesus’ mind - human or divine - on that day; but by ordinary human sympathies we have some sense of what Our Lady must have experienced: understandably therefore, the Church’s devotion has often focused on Our Lady, as standing for all Christians. The hymn "Stabat Mater" is ascribed to the Franciscan Jacopone da Todi (d. 1306), and is characteristic of early Franciscan piety, with its emphasis on personal identification with the sufferings of Christ.