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Faithful gather to walk the Stations of the Cross

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Men carry a cross as they walk with the crowd during the annual Station of the Cross at St. Peter's Catholic Church on Friday.

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The Daily Reflector

Saturday, April 20, 2019

Gray skies and the threat of rain resulted in a smaller-than-usual crowd at Friday’s Stations of the Cross ceremony at St. Peter Catholic Church in Greenville.

Still, a group of faithful Christians gathered for what has become a community tradition of eccumenical prayer and commemoration of Jesus Christ’s last day on Earth as a man.

St. Peter’s pastor, Father Jim Buchholz, and fellow clergy from other Greenville churches gathered their flocks together outside the church on East Fourth Street to observe the important Holy Week observance, also known as the Way of the Cross. A simultaneous observance was held in the church sanctuary for those who might not tolerate the weather and the longer walk.

Worshipers walked the perimeter of the church property, including the adjacent school grounds and playground across Fourth Street, stopping to pray, sing and listen to their pastor’s recitations on the theme of redemption through Jesus’ sacrifice.

There are 14 prayer stations, marked by icons in Catholic churches, sometimes marked along outdoor paths with crosses, where worshipers can meditate on the specific events of Christ’s last day, his death on the cross and his resurrection on Easter Sunday.

Each of the 14 stations represents a moment in Jesus’ crucifixion: when he was condemned to death; accepted the cross; fell the first time; met his mother; when Simon helped him carry the cross; when Veronica wiped his face; when he fell the second time; when he spoke to the weeping women; when he fell the third time; when he was stripped of his garments; when he was nailed to the cross; when he died on the cross, when he was given to his mother; and when he was laid in the tomb.

Each station included a lesson about forgiveness, encouragement, suffering, courage, accepting help, compassion or putting others first.

The worship service traces its roots to the fourth century, when the Emperor Constantine allowed Christians to openly worship in the Roman Empire. Pilgrims made their way to Jerusalem to trace the steps believed to be Christ’s actual procession from his condemnation by Pontius Pilate to the cross and then to his burial tomb, around which Constantine built a shrine called the Church of the Holy Sepulcher.

Believers have been reenacting that first pilgrimage ever since in Jerusalem and at churches around the world.

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