EWTN Catholic Q&A
Stations of the cross
Question from Nancy Hale on 09-03-2016:

I have been looking into The Stations of the Cross and have found several versions. What is the correct one used by the catholic church and can you tell me where they originated.

Answer by Fr. Jay Toborowsky on 09-04-2016:

You might find more of an answer in the Church History section, but as I heard of it, Stations of the Cross began as a devotion of the Franciscans (probably because they were the designated custodians of the Shrines of the Holy Land). Centuries ago, making a pilgrimage to the Holy Land used to be considered a "must do" in the life of Christians (I would say that today it is making a comeback). I believe the idea behind them was that, since people couldn't get to the places of Jesus' Passion in real life, a sort of mini-pilgrimage could take place with some walking and praying by setting up stations in which they could meditate on the events as if they were there.

Yes, several versions of the Stations of the Cross have crept up (along with several books of meditations based on each Station). Generally, if you research anything about Stations of the Cross before 1970, you should be fine.