Stations of the Cross

Apologies if this has been raised previously, but here goes:
A member of our congregation has asked me why the Stations of the Cross in our church are displayed 'anticlockwise', starting at the East end of the North side, progressing to the West End, then back on the South side ending at the East end by what we term the Resurrection (formerly Requiem) altar. I believe this is the traditional order.
Thinking quickly, I said that traditionally the North side was the abode of darkness and the Devil, the South that of light and God. So, the series starts with the apparent triumph of evil with the condemnation of Jesus, and ends with the redemption of the world by his sacrificial death. I have no idea if this is right, but can any Shipmate enlighten me with the true explanation?

Comments

  • OblatusOblatus Shipmate
    My understanding is that anticlockwise is traditionally the penitential direction for processions, so it's appropriate in Lent and for walking the Stations of the Cross while praying prayers that focus on the events of the Passion (and the part our sins play in that). We proceed anticlockwise when we pray the Great Litany in procession on Lent I, for example.
  • Our Place (C of E 'Anglo-Carflick', FWIW) does it as Eirenist describes.

    The pictures themselves are Edwardian drawings contemporaneous (AFAIK) with the church (built in 1908), and the direction in which the various peeps are travelling, so to speak, is as described.

    Whether it has any significance or not, I couldn't say, but the tradition in some Western churches used to be to read the Gospel facing north towards the abode of the heathen, rather than the forces of darkness, but, hey.....
  • Our Place (C of E 'Anglo-Carflick', FWIW) does it as Eirenist describes... Whether it has any significance or not, I couldn't say, but the tradition in some Western churches used to be to read the Gospel facing north towards the abode of the heathen, rather than the forces of darkness, but, hey.....

    From the discussion of Praying for departed clergy (and the burial thereof):
    Gee D wrote: »
    Albertus wrote: »
    BroJames wrote: »
    I was told by a funeral director that most people are buried east facing in the direction of the second coming of Christ. Priests, however, may be buried facing in the direction of ‘their’ people.

    Sound and loyal CofE clergy should, of course, be buried at the north end of the grave... ;)

    Always remembering that since the earliest Christian times, if not even longer, the Mediterranean world viewed the north as the place of cold, ice and evil.
    Zappa wrote: »
    well where I was living previously it was the place of crocodiles, so, yeah

    So perhaps you're reading the Gospel facing north in the hope of evangelizing the crocodiles.
    :wink:


  • Well, they could well benefit from it!
    :lol:

    (In actual fact, we read the Gospel in the midst of the community of faith, symbolic - AIUI - of Our Lord's presence in the midst of His people).
  • Gee DGee D Shipmate
    At our place, the deacon reading the Gospel faces east, both liturgically and physically. That's because the Gospel procession is to the mid-point of the nave.
  • IereusIereus Shipmate
    Although we don’t have Stations of the Cross in the Orthodox Church, all of our processions always go counterclockwise.
  • The anticlock wise display was used in the RCC church of my youth, the TEC high-up-the-candle church of my later years, and both the RCC and TEC churhes here in town..... so I've always considered it correct. And yes, although we use the Great Litany seldom these days, we always process anticlockwise when using it. And yes, it confuses the dickens out of folk.

    By the way, brilliant quick thinking on your part, Eirenist!
  • Yes, an excellent impromptu homilette!
    :sweat_smile:
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