The 14 Stations of the Cross, Formal Initiations

The Stations of the Cross include a series of fourteen representations that depict the events surrounding Christ's crucifixion. The Catholic Church hierarchy developed the stations during the Middle Ages as a devotional experience for following the Via Dolorosa (the Way of Sorrow), the Via Crucis (the Way of the Cross), the route in Jerusalem that Christ followed to Calvary.

These stations cover the time between when Pilate condemned Jesus until he was laid in the grave. The 14 Stations of the Cross form the minimum level of initiation required to pass the Gates of Light and to enter the Kingdom of Heaven. The Stations of the Cross form an integral part of your observance of Lent on the Via Christa.


Church of Notre-Dame-des-Champs, Avranches, Manche, Normandie, France. Fourteen enamel paintings, technique from Limoges, representing the Stations of the Cross (from left to right, top down). Larger view here.

Edna Lister on the Fourteen Stations of the Cross

The 14 Stations of the Cross form a devotional meditation that teaches responsibility for your own life. You must choose at each station. The stations represent fourteen initiations, based on the initiations of the Seven Degrees, the sacrifice of self and crucifixion of the self-centered will through tests and trials on the outer.

The key to passing these initiations is freedom from earthly ideas, fears, and frustrations. Your goal is to be free of earth, to be surrounded with Light, to be tough but not coarse, to view all slings and arrows objectively, including slander and stinging remarks.

As you ascend, true freedom surrounds you so perfectly with Light that you cannot take darkness into your aura. You do not ever hear an unfair word spoken. To "stand in the Light" means to be balanced and to have equilibrium. Just smile, agree and adjust with the one who desires to be your adversary. These fourteen steps bring freedom of the soul that leaves you standing untouchable, invincible and invulnerable.

Jesus fell three times under the cross, at the third, seventh, and ninth stations, which symbolize points in your soul's ascension where you are called upon to resolve all your remaining inner conflicts. At the first through the third stations you learn to agree and adjust with your self and to maintain harmony among self, expressing as appetitive soul, your rational soul as conscious mind, and your Oversoul of super-conscious mind, the mind that was in Christ Jesus. – Edna Lister, Heaven, a Place to Fill, April 10, 1962.

The Stations of the Cross are fourteen steps in self-mastery, including many examinations and temptations meant to raise your consciousness from self to live by the tenets of soul. They are the absolute minimum effort found acceptable by Heavenly Councils if you want to hold your place and pay your soul debts to the law. – Edna Lister, Fourteen Stations of the Cross, April 17, 1962.

The Initiatory Significance of the Fourteen Stations of the Cross

First Station: At the first Station of the Cross, the Roman Procurator Pontius Pilate condemns Jesus at the request of the Court of the Sanhedrin.

"When the morning was come, all the chief priests and elders of the people took counsel against Jesus to put him to death: And when they had bound him, they led him away, and delivered him to Pontius Pilate the governor. … And Jesus stood before the governor: and the governor asked him, saying, Art thou the King of the Jews? And Jesus said unto him, Thou sayest. And when he was accused of the chief priests and elders, he answered nothing. Then said Pilate unto him, Hearest thou not how many things they witness against thee? And he answered him to never a word; insomuch that the governor marvelled greatly.

"Now at that feast the governor was wont to release unto the people a prisoner, whom they would. And they had then a notable prisoner, called Barabbas. Therefore when they were gathered together, Pilate said unto them, Whom will ye that I release unto you? Barabbas, or Jesus which is called Christ? For he knew that for envy they had delivered him. … But the chief priests and elders persuaded the multitude that they should ask Barabbas, and destroy Jesus.

"The governor answered and said unto them, Whether of the twain will ye that I release unto you? They said, Barabbas. Pilate saith unto them, What shall I do then with Jesus which is called Christ? They all say unto him, Let him be crucified. And the governor said, Why, what evil hath he done? But they cried out the more, saying, Let him be crucified. When Pilate saw that he could prevail nothing, but that rather a tumult was made, he took water, and washed his hands before the multitude, saying, I am innocent of the blood of this just person: see ye to it." – Matthew 27:1-2, 11-18, 20-24.

The mystical initiatory significance of the first Station is the need for silence under blame, making no excuses and offering no justification for the self, even in the face of false accusations.

Second Station: Jesus accepts the cross in silence.

"Then the soldiers of the governor took Jesus into the common hall, and gathered unto him the whole band of soldiers. And they stripped him, and put on him a scarlet robe. And when they had platted a crown of thorns, they put it upon his head, and a reed in his right hand: and they bowed the knee before him, and mocked him, saying, Hail, King of the Jews! And they spit upon him, and took the reed, and smote him on the head. And after that they had mocked him, they took the robe off from him, and put his own raiment on him, and led him away to crucify him." – Matthew 27:27-31.

Pilate then delivered Jesus to his soldiers, to be crucified.

"And they took Jesus, and led him away. And he bearing his cross went forth into a place called the place of a skull, which is called in the Hebrew Golgotha." – John 19:16-17.

At the second Station of the Cross, Jesus accepts the cross after having been scourged cruelly. The mystical initiatory significance is the need to adjust to life in silence, bravely , and graciously.

Third Station: Jesus falls under the weight of the cross.

"A just man falleth seven times, and riseth up again." – Proverbs 24:16. This event is not mentioned in Scripture, yet tradition holds that Jesus fell three times while bearing the cross. Three is a number that implies "more than two" in Scripture. The mystical initiatory significance of the third Station is the need to ignore what you cannot avoid and to keep your soul vision focused on God.

Fourth Station: Jesus encounters his grieving mother.

"Simeon blessed them, and said unto Mary his mother, Behold, this child is set for the fall and rising again of many in Israel; and for a sign which shall be spoken against; (yea, a sword shall pierce through thy own soul also,) that the thoughts of many hearts may be revealed." – Luke 2:34-35.

The fourth Station is also counted as tradition, and without Scriptural foundation. The mystical initiatory significance of the fourth Station of the Cross is the need to persevere even when you think you may be failing someone whom you love.

Fifth Station: Simon the Cyrene helps Jesus to carry the cross.

"As they led [Jesus] away, they laid hold upon one Simon, a Cyrenian, coming out of the country, and on him they laid the cross, that he might bear it after Jesus." – Luke 23:26.

"They compel one Simon a Cyrenian, who passed by, coming out of the country, the father of Alexander and Rufus, to bear his cross." – Mark 15:21.

At the fifth Station of the Cross, Simon the Cyrene helps Jesus to carry the cross. The mystical initiatory significance is the need to succor the crucified, and to persevere when someone aids you.

Sixth Station: Veronica wipes Jesus' face with her veil.

The story of Veronica is an early Christian tradition, not supported by Scripture. The name "Veronica" comes from the Latin vera, meaning "true" or "truthful", and the Greek eikon, meaning "image"; the Veil of Veronica was therefore largely regarded in medieval times as the "true image" of Jesus.

Another tradition identifies Veronica as Berenike, the woman whom Jesus healed of an issue of blood. The mystical initiatory significance is the need to burn away the silver cord to travel to the Source of all Light.

Seventh Station: Jesus falls a second time.

The second and third times that Jesus fell while carrying the cross are traditional, and are not supported by Scripture. The mystical initiatory significance of this second fall is the need to be strong while you stand alone, without depending on others.

Eighth Station: Jesus meets the grieving women of Jerusalem.

"And there followed [Jesus] a great company of people, and of women, which also bewailed and lamented him. But Jesus turning unto them said, Daughters of Jerusalem, weep not for me, but weep for yourselves, and for your children. For, behold, the days are coming, in the which they shall say, Blessed are the barren, and the wombs that never bare, and the paps which never gave suck. Then shall they begin to say to the mountains, Fall on us; and to the hills, Cover us. For if they do these things in a green tree, what shall be done in the dry?" – Luke 23:27-31.

The mystical initiatory significance of the eighth Station of the Cross is compassion without sentimentality, and the need to put all lessons learned into action selflessly.

Ninth Station: Jesus falls the third time.

This fall is traditional, and not supported by Scripture. Jesus faltered with his mother, with Veronica, then with the women of Jerusalem. The mystical initiatory significance is the need to conquer all self by comprehension of the full and true meaning of ascension.

Tenth Station: Jesus is stripped of his garments.

"They gave him vinegar to drink mingled with gall: and when he had tasted thereof, he would not drink. And they crucified him, and parted his garments, casting lots: that it might be fulfilled which was spoken by the prophet, They parted my garments among them, and upon my vesture did they cast lots." – Matthew 27:34-35.

The mystical initiatory significance of the tenth Station is the need to let the full Power of God take charge of your life.

Eleventh Station: Jesus is crucified.

"And it was the third hour, and they crucified him." – Mark 15:25.

The mystical initiatory significance of the eleventh Station of the Cross is the need to integrate your entire life with God's will and desires for you.

Twelfth Station: Jesus dies on the cross.

"And it was about the sixth hour, and there was a darkness over all the earth until the ninth hour. And the sun was darkened, and the veil of the temple was rent in the midst. And when Jesus had cried with a loud voice, he said, Father, into thy hands I commend my spirit: and having said thus, he gave up the ghost." – Luke 23:44-46.

The mystical initiatory significance of the twelfth Station of the Cross is the need to be firm with commanding the self, fearless in the face of the world, and devotionally bold for God. The initiation includes meeting challenges of death to the little self, which most people seem to repudiate.

Thirteenth Station: At the thirteenth Station of the Cross, Jesus' body is removed from the cross.

"And, behold, there was a man named Joseph, a counsellor; and he was a good man, and a just: (The same had not consented to the counsel and deed of them;) he was of Arimathaea, a city of the Jews: who also himself waited for the kingdom of God. This man went unto Pilate, and begged the body of Jesus. And he took it down, and wrapped it in linen, and laid it in a sepulchre that was hewn in stone, wherein never man before was laid." – Luke 23:50-53.

The mystical initiatory significance is the need to make the cross into your ladder of ascension.

Fourteenth Station: At the fourteenth Station of the Cross, Jesus is buried in a borrowed tomb.

The mystical initiatory significance is the need for pure selfless, eternal worship of God, no matter what. – Edna Lister, Fourteen Stations of the Cross, April 17, 1962.

Top ↑

Edna Miriam Lister
1884 –1971
The original Pioneering Mystic
minister, teacher, and author

Edna Lister

The Stations of the Cross are a set of Formal Initiations.


The Compact Edition of The Oxford English Dictionary: 2 volumes. E.S.C. Weiner, editor. Oxford University Press, 1971.

Britannica, The Editors of Encyclopaedia. "Stations of the Cross," Encyclopedia Britannica, 23 April 23 2020. Accessed March 30, 2021.

The Holy Bible. King James Version (KJV), Public Domain.

The Nag Hammadi Library. James M. Robinson, editor. San Francisco, Harper & Row, 1981.

The Stations of the Cross. The Catholic Encyclopedia: An International Work of Reference on the Constitution, Doctrine, Discipline, and History of the Catholic Church. Charles G. Herberman, et al., eds. Robert Appleton Company, New York. 1907-1912.

Related Topics

See Lent

See Lent in Sermons and Lectures

See Three Temptations in the Wilderness

Search Our Site