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St Peter's Stations of the Cross
A set of Stations of the Cross hang on the walls of the nave at St Peter's. These are smaller copies of a similar set of stations that hang in St Francis' Church in Lonsdale Street in the city. The Stations were set in the church by Fr Ernest Selwyn Hughes in 1899 while he was still a curate in the parish under Canon Handfield. However, it was several years before these Stations were used liturgically during Lent. In 1916, Hughes described the Stations as a devotion which developed from the 'ancient tradition' that Mary went along the way of the cross year by year. He accompanied this explanation with an outline of prayers that could be used for such a devotion. This outline corresponds to the prayers which were in use by 1921.
The devotions and prayers accompanying the illustrations of the Stations here are those that have been used on Sundays in Lent at St Peter's for many years. Formerly, it was the custom to use this devotion during Lent, following Evensong (replacing the usual service of of Benediction for the Lenten period). However, in recent years, declining congregations for the Sunday evening service of Evensong have led to this service being replaced by a said mass at 6:00 pm, except for the fourth Sunday of the month on which a traditional sung Evensong service is held — followed by Benediction for most of the year, but by the Stations of the Cross during Lent.
The form of devotion used in these pages is appropriate as either a public service or as a private devotion. This devotion can be used at any time, but it is particularly appropriate for the Fridays in Lent.
The number of stations has varied widely in the tradition, but has largely become fixed on twelve or fourteen. Fourteen are used in the liturgy at St Peter's, but there are only twelve pictures in the set, and these twelve are used here. Of these, eight are based directly on events recorded in the Gospels; the remaining four (numbers 3,5,7, and 11) are based on inferences from the Gospel accounts, or on pious legend.
In use, The Way of the Cross is preceded by opening devotions, and there are some concluding prayers said before the High Altar. These additional devotions are also given here, so that the pictures of the stations can be used as a slide show between the opening and closing prayers.