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Way of the Cross

(Also called Stations of the Cross, Via Crucis, and Via Dolorosa). These names are used to signify either a series of pictures or tableaux representing certain scenes in the Passion of Christ, each corresponding to a particular incident, or the special form of devotion connected with such representations.

Taken in the former sense, the Stations may be of stone, wood, or metal, sculptured or carved, or they may be merely paintings or engravings. Some Stations are valuable works of art, as those, for instance, in Antwerp cathedral, which have been much copied elsewhere. They are usually ranged at intervals around the walls of a church, though sometimes they are to be found in the open air, especially on roads leading to a church or shrine. In monasteries they are often placed in the cloisters. The erection and use of the Stations did not become at all general before the end of the seventeenth century, but they are now to be found in almost every church. Formerly their number varied considerably in different places but fourteen are now prescribed by authority. They are as follows:

  • Christ condemned to death ;
  • the cross is laid upon him;
  • His first fall;
  • He meets His Blessed Mother;
  • Simon of Cyrene is made to bear the cross;
  • Christ's face is wiped by Veronica;
  • His second fall;
  • He meets the women of Jerusalem ;
  • His third fall;
  • He is stripped of His garments;
  • His crucifixion;
  • His death on the cross;
  • His body is taken down from the cross; and
  • laid in the tomb.
  • The object of the Stations is to help the faithful to make in spirit, as it were, a pilgrimage to the chief scenes of Christ's sufferings and death, and this has become one of the most popular of Catholic devotions. It is carried out by passing from Station to Station, with certain prayers at each and devout meditation on the various incidents in turn. It is very usual, when the devotion is performed publicly, to sing a stanza of the "Stabat Mater" while passing from one Station to the next.

    Inasmuch as the Way of the Cross, made in this way, constitutes a miniature pilgrimage to the holy places at Jerusalem, the origin of the devotion may be traced to the Holy Land. The Via Dolorosa at Jerusalem (though not called by that name before the sixteenth century) was reverently marked out from the earliest times and has been the goal of pious pilgrims ever since the days of Constantine. Tradition asserts that the Blessed Virgin used to visit daily the scenes of Christ's Passion and St. Jerome speaks of the crowds of pilgrims from all countries who used to visit the holy places in his day. There is, however, no direct evidence as to the existence of any set form of the devotion at that early date, and it is noteworthy that St. Sylvia (c. 380) says nothing about it in her "Peregrinatio ad loca sancta", although she describes minutely every other religious exercise that she saw practised there. A desire to reproduce the holy places in other lands, in order to satisfy the devotion of those who were hindered from making the actual pilgrimage, seems to have manifested itself at quite an early date. At the monastery of San Stefano at Bologna a group of connected chapels were constructed as early as the fifth century, by St. Petronius, Bishop of Bologna, which were intended to represent the more important shrines of Jerusalem, and in consequence, this monastery became familiarly known as "Hierusalem". These may perhaps be regarded as the germ from which the Stations afterwards developed, though it is tolerably certain that nothing that we have before about the fifteenth century can strictly be called a Way of the Cross in the modern sense. Several travellers, it is true, who visited the Holy Land during the twelfth, thirteenth, and fourteenth centuries, mention a "Via Sacra", i.e., a settled route along which pilgrims were conducted, but there is nothing in their accounts to identify this with the Via Crucis, as we understand it, including special stopping-places with indulgences attached, and such indulgenced Stations must, after all, be considered to be the true origin of the devotion as now practised. It cannot be said with any certainty when such indulgences began to be granted, but most probably they may be due to the Franciscans, to whom in 1342 the guardianship of the holy places was entrusted. Ferraris mentions the following as Stations to which indulgences were attached: the place where Christ met His Blessed Mother, where He spoke to the women of Jerusalem, where He met Simon of Cyrene, where the soldiers cast lots for His garment, where He was nailed to the cross, Pilate's house, and the Holy Sepulchre. Analogous to this it may be mentioned that in 1520 Leo X granted an indulgence of a hundred days to each of a set of scuptured Stations, representing the Seven Dolours of Our Lady, in the cemetery of the Franciscan Friary at Antwerp, the devotion connected with them being a very popular one. The earliest use of the word Stations , as applied to the accustomed halting-places in the Via Sacra at Jerusalem, occurs in the narrative of an English pilgrim, William Wey, who visited the Holy Land in 1458 and again in 1462, and who describes the manner in which it was then usual to follow the footsteps of Christ in His sorrowful journey. It seems that up to that time it had been the general practice to commence at Mount Calvary , and proceeding thence, in the opposite direction to Christ, to work back to Pilate's house. By the early part of the sixteenth century, however, the more reasonable way of traversing the route, by beginning at Pilate's house and ending at Mount Calvary, had come to be regarded as more correct, and it became a special exercise of devotion complete in itself. During the fifteenth and sixteenth centuries several reproductions of the holy places were set up in different parts of Europe. The Blessed Alvarez (d. 1420), on his return from the Holy Land, built a series of little chapels at the Dominican friary of Cordova, in which, after the pattern of separate Stations, were painted the principal scenes of the Passion. About the same time the Blessed Eustochia, a poor Clare, constructed a similar set of Stations in her convent at Messina. Others that may be enumerated were those at Görlitz, erected by G. Emmerich, about 1465, and at Nuremburg, by Ketzel, in 1468. Imiations of these were made at Louvain in 1505 by Peter Sterckx; at St. Getreu in Bamberg in 1507; at Fribourg and at Rhodes, about the same date, the two latter being in the commanderies of the Knights of Rhodes. Those at Nuremburg, which were carved by Adam Krafft, as well as some of the others, consisted of seven Stations, popularly known as "the Seven Falls", because in each of them Christ was represented either as actually prostrate or as sinking under the weight of His cross. A famous set of Stations was set up in 1515 by Romanet Bofin at Romans in Dauphine, in imitation of those at Fribourg, and a similar set was erected in 1491 at Varallo by the Franciscans there, whose guardian, Blessed Bernardino Caimi, had been custodian of the holy places. In several of these early examples an attempt was made, not merely to duplicate the most hallowed spots of the original Via Dolorosa at Jerusalem, but also to reproduce the exact intervals between them, measured in paces, so that devout people might cover precisely the same distances as they would have done had they made the pilgrimage to the Holy Land itself. Boffin and some of the others visited Jerusalem for the express purpose of obtaining the exact measurements, but unfortunately, though each claimed to be correct, there is an extraordinary divergence between some of them.

    With regard to the number of Stations it is not at all easy to determine how this came to be fixed at fourteen, for it seems to have varied considerably at different times and places. And, naturally, with varying numbers the incidents of the Passion commemorated also varied greatly. Wey's account, written in the middle of the fifteenth century, gives fourteen, but only five of these correspond with ours, and of the others, seven are only remotely connected with our Via Crucis:

    • The house of Dives,
    • the city gate through which Christ passed,
    • the probatic pool,
    • the Ecce Homo arch,
    • the Blessed Virgin's school, and
    • the houses of Herod and Simon the Pharisee.

    When Romanet Boffin visited Jerusalem in 1515 for the purpose of obtaining correct details for his set of Stations at Romans, two friars there told him that there ought to be thirty-one in all, but in the manuals of devotion subsequently issued for the use of those visiting these Stations they are given variously as nineteen, twenty-five, and thirty-seven, so it seems that even in the same place the number was not determined very definitely. A book entitled "Jerusalem sicut Christi tempore floruit", written by one Adrichomius and published in 1584, gives twelve Stations which correspond exactly with the first twelve of ours, and this fact is thought by some to point conclusively to the origin of the particular selection afterwards authorized by the Church, especially as this book had a wide circulation and was translated into several European languages. Whether this is so or not we cannot say for certain. At any rate, during the sixteenth century, a number of devotional manuals, giving prayers for use when making the Stations, were published in the Low Countries, and some of our fourteen appear in them for the first time. But whilst this was being done in Europe for the benefit of those who could not visit the Holy Land and yet could reach Louvain, Nuremburg, Romans, or one of the other reproductions of the Via Dolorosa, it appears doubtful whether, even up to the end of the sixteenth century, there was any settled form of the devotion performed publicly in Jerusalem, for Zuallardo, who wrote a book on the subject, published in Rome in 1587, although he gives a full series of prayers, etc., for the shrines within the Holy Sepulchre , which were under the care of the Franciscans, provides none for the Stations themselves. He explains the reason thus: "it is not permitted to make any halt, nor to pay veneration to them with uncovered head, nor to make any other demonstration". From this it would seem that after Jerusalem had passed under the Turkish domination the pious exercises of the Way of the Cross could be performed far more devoutly at Nuremburg or Louvain than in Jerusalem itself. It may therefore be conjectured, with extreme probability, that our present series of Stations, together with the accustomed series of prayers for them, comes to us, not from Jerusalem, but from some of the imitation Ways of the Cross in different parts of Europe, and that we owe the propagation of the devotion, as well as the number and selection of our Stations, much more to the pious ingenuity of certain sixteenth-century devotional writers than to the actual practice of pilgrims to the holy places.

    With regard to the particular subjects which have been retained in our series of Stations, it may be noted that very few of the medieval accounts make any mention of either the second (Christ receiving the cross) or the tenth (Christ being stripped of His garments), whilst others which have since dropped out appear in almost all the early lists. One of the most frequent of these is the Station formerly made at the remains of the Ecce Homo arch, i.e. the balcony from which these words were pronounced. Additions and omissions such as these seem to confirm the supposition that our Stations are derived from pious manuals of devotion rather than from Jerusalem itself. The three falls of Christ (third, seventh, and ninth Stations) are apparently all that remain of the Seven Falls, as depicted by Krafft at Nuremburg and his imitators, in all of which Christ was represented as either falling or actually fallen. In explanations of this it is supposed that the other four falls coincided with His meetings with His Mother, Simon of Cyrene, Veronica, and the women of Jerusalem, and that in these four the mention of the fall has dropped out whilst it survives in the other three which have nothing else to distinguish them. A few medieval writers take the meeting with Simon and the women of Jerusalem to have been simultaneous, but the majority represent them as separate events. The Veronica incident does not occur in many of the earlier accounts, whilst almost all of those that do mention it place it as having happened just before reaching Mount Calvary, instead of earlier in the journey as in our present arrangement. An interesting variation is found in the special set of eleven stations ordered in 1799 for use in the diocese of Vienne. It is as follows:

  • the Agony in the Garden ;
  • the betrayal by Judas ;
  • the scourging;
  • the crowning with thorns;
  • Christ condemned to death ;
  • He meets Simon of Cyrene ;
  • the women of Jerusalem ;
  • He tastes the gall;
  • He is nailed to the cross;
  • His death on the cross; and
  • His body is taken down from the cross.
  • It will be noticed that only five of these correspond exactly with our Stations. The others, though comprising the chief events of the Passion, are not strictly incidents of the Via Dolorosa itself.

    Another variation that occurs in different churches relates to the side of the church on which the Stations begin. The Gospel side is perhaps the more usual. In reply to a question the Sacred Congregation of Indulgences, in 1837, said that, although nothing was ordered on this point, beginning on the Gospel side seemed to be the more appropriate. In deciding the matter, however, the arrangement and form of a church may make it more convenient to go the other way. The position of the figures in the tableaux, too, may sometimes determine the direction of the route, for it seems more in accordance with the spirit of the devotion that the procession, in passing from station to station, should follow Christ rather than meet Him.

    The erection of the Stations in churches did not become at all common until towards the end of the seventeenth century, and the popularity of the practice seems to have been chiefly due to the indulgences attached. The custom originated with the Franciscans, but its special connection with that order has now disappeared. It has already been said that numerous indulgences were formerly attached to the holy places at Jerusalem. Realizing that few persons, comparatively, were able to gain these by means of a personal pilgrimage to the Holy Land, Innocent XI, in 1686, granted to the Franciscans, in answer to their petition, the right to erect the Stations in all their churches, and declared that all the indulgences that had ever been given for devoutly visiting the actual scenes of Christ's Passion, could thenceforth be gained by Franciscans and all others affiliated to their order if they made the Way of the Cross in their own churches in the accustomed manner. Innocent XII confirmed the privilege in 1694 and Benedict XIII in 1726 extended it to all the faithful. In 1731 Clement XII still further extended it by permitting the indulgenced Stations to all churches, provided that they were erected by a Franciscan father with the sanction of the ordinary. At the same time he definitely fixed the number of Stations at fourteen. Benedict XIV in 1742 exhorted all priests to enrich their churches with so great a treasure, and there are few churches now without the Stations. In 1857 the bishops of England received faculties from the Holy See to erect Stations themselves, with the indulgences attached, wherever there were no Franciscans available, and in 1862 this last restriction was removed and the bishops were empowered to erect the Stations themselves, either personally or by delegate, anywhere within their jurisdiction. These faculties are quinquennial. There is some uncertainty as to what are the precise indulgences belonging to the stations. It is agreed that all that have ever been granted to the faithful for visiting the holy places in person can now be gained by making the Via Crucis in any church where the Stations have been erected in due form, but the Instructions of the Sacred Congregation, approved by Clement XII in 1731, prohibit priests and others from specifying what or how many indulgences may be gained. In 1773 Clement XIV attached the same indulgence, under certain conditions, to crucifixes duly blessed for the purpose, for the use of the sick, those at sea or in prison, and others lawfully hindered from making the Stations in a church. The conditions are that, whilst holding the crucifix in their hands, they must say the "Pater" and "Ave" fourteen times, then the "Pater", "Ave", and "Gloria" five times, and the same again once each for the pope's intentions. If one person hold the crucifix, a number present may gain the indulgences provided the other conditions are fulfilled by all. Such crucifixes cannot be sold, lent, or given away, without losing the indulgence.

    The following are the principal regulations universally in force at the present time with regard to the Stations:

    • If a pastor or a superior of a convent, hospital, etc., wishes to have the Stations erected in their places he must ask permission of the bishop. If there are Franciscan Fathers in the same town or city, their superior must be asked to bless the Stations or delegate some priest either of his own monastery or a secular priest. If there are no Franciscan Fathers in that place the bishops who have obtained from the Holy See the extraordinary of Form C can delegate any priest to erect the Stations. This delegation of a certain priest for the blessing of the Stations must necessarily be done in writing. The pastor of such a church, or the superior of such a hospital, convent, etc., should take care to sign the document the bishop or the superior of the monastery sends, so that he may thereby express his consent to have the Stations erected in their place, for the bishop's and the respective pastor's or superior's consent must be had before the Stations are blessed, otherwise the blessing is null and void;
    • Pictures or tableaux of the various Stations are not necessary. It is to the cross placed over them that the indulgence is attached. These crosses must be of wood; no other material will do. If only painted on the wall the erection is null (Cong. Ind., 1837, 1838, 1845);
    • If, for restoring the church, for placing them in a more convenient position, or for any other reasonable cause, the crosses are moved, this may be done without the indulgence being lost (1845). If any of the crosses, for some reason, have to be replaced, no fresh blessing is required, unless more than half of them are so replaced (1839).
    • There should if possible be a separate meditation on each of the fourteen incidents of the Via Crucis, not a general meditation on the Passion nor on other incidents not included in the Stations. No particular prayers are ordered;
    • The distance required between the Stations is not defined. Even when only the clergy move from one Station to another the faithful can still gain the indulgence without moving;
    • It is necessary to make all the Stations uninterruptedly (S.C.I., 22 January, 1858). Hearing Mass or going to Confession or Communion between Stations is not considered an interruption. According to many the Stations may be made more than once on the same day, the indulgence may be gained each time ; but this is by no means certain (S.C.I., 10 Sept., 1883). Confession and Communion on the day of making the Stations are not necessary provided the person making them is in a state of grace;
    • Ordinarily the Stations should be erected within a church or public oratory. If the Via Crucis goes outside, e.g., in a cemetery or cloister, it should if possible begin and end in the church.

    In conclusion it may be safely asserted that there is no devotion more richly endowed with indulgences than the Way of the Cross, and none which enables us more literally to obey Christ's injunction to take up our cross and follow Him. A perusal of the prayers usually given for this devotion in any manual will show what abundant spiritual graces, apart from the indulgences, may be obtained through a right use of them, and the fact that the Stations may be made either publicly or privately in any church renders the devotion specially suitable for all. One of the most popularly attended Ways of the Cross at the present day is that in the Colosseum at Rome, where every Friday the devotion of the Stations is conducted publicly by a Franciscan Father.

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    Polemical writer, born at Puttlingen in German Lorraine, 1691; died at Kappel-Rodeck in Baden, 29 ...

    Weiss, Johann Baptist

    Born at Ettenheim, Baden, 17 July, 1820; died at Graz, 8 March, 1899. After completing his ...

    Weissenau, Monastery of

    (Originally OWE_AUGIA, then MINDERLAU-AUGIA MINOR, and finally WEISSEN AU-AUGIA ALBA or CANDIDA). ...

    Weitenauer, Ignatius von

    Litterateur, exegete, and Orientalist, born at Ingolstadt, Bavaria, 1 November, 1709; died at ...

    Welbourne, Ven. Thomas

    Martyred at York, 1 August, 1605. Nothing is known about about this martyr except the scanty ...

    Weld

    The name of an ancient English family (branches of which are found in several parts of England ...

    Weld, Frederick Aloysius

    Youngest son of Humphrey Weld, born at Chidcock Manor, Dorset, 1823; died there, 1891. He was ...

    Welle, Prefecture Apostolic of

    Located in the extreme north of Belgian Congo, Africa, separated by a Decree of the Propaganda ...

    Wellington, Archdiocese of

    (WELLINGTONIENSIS). Located in New Zealand, originally formed part of the Vicariate of ...

    Wells in Scripture

    It is difficult for inhabitants of a more humid climate to realize the importance which a country ...

    Wells, Ven. Smithin

    English martyr, born at Brambridge, Hampshire, about 1536; hanged at Gray's Inn Lane, London, ...

    Welser, Bartholomeus

    German merchant prince, born at Augsburg, 1488; died at Amberg, near Turkheim, Swabia, 1561. His ...

    Welsh Church

    In giving separate consideration to the Church of Wales, we follow a practice common among ...

    Welsh Monastic Foundations

    Few saints of the early British Church, as it existed before the Saxon invasion, are known to ...

    Welte, Benedict

    Exegete, born at Ratzenried in Würtemberg, 25 November, 1825; died 27 May, 1885. After ...

    Wenceslaus, Saint

    ( Also Vaclav, Vaceslav.) Duke, martyr, and patron of Bohemia, born probably 903; died at ...

    Wendelin of Trier, Saint

    Born about 554; died probably in 617. His earliest biographies, two in Latin and two in German, ...

    Weninger, Francis Xavier

    Jesuit missionary and author, born at Wildhaus, Styria, Austria, 31 October, 1805; died at ...

    Wenrich of Trier

    German ecclesiastico-polical writer of the eleventh century. He was a canon at Verdun, and ...

    Werburgh, Saint

    (WEREBURGA, WEREBURG, VERBOURG). Benedictine, patroness of Chester, Abbess of Weedon, ...

    Werden

    (WERTHINA, WEERDA, WERDENA). A suppressed Benedictine monastery near Essen in Rhenish ...

    Werner, Friedrich Ludwig Zacharias

    Convert, poet, and pulpit orator, born at Konigsberg, Prussia, 18 November, 1768; died at ...

    Wessel Goesport, John

    (GANSFORT). A fifteenth-century Dutch theologian, born at Gröningen in 1420; died there ...

    Wessenberg, Ignaz Heinrich von

    Vicar-General and Administrator of the Diocese of Constance, born at Dresden, 4 November, 1774; ...

    Wessobrunn

    (WESSOGONTANTUM, AD FONTES WESSONIS). A suppressed Benedictine abbey near Weilheim in Upper ...

    West Syrian Rite

    The rite used by the Jacobite sect in Syria and by the Catholic Syrians is in its origin ...

    West Virginia

    A state of the American Union, bounded on the northeast by Pennsylvania and Maryland, on the ...

    Westcott, Sebastian

    English organist, born about 1524, was a chorister, under Redford, at St. Paul's Cathedral, ...

    Westeraas, Ancient See of

    (AROSI, AROSIENSIS). Located in Sweden. The Catholic diocese included the lands of ...

    Western Schism

    This schism of the fourteenth and fifteenth centuries differs in all points from the Eastern ...

    Westminster Abbey

    This most famous of all English abbeys is situated within the precincts of the Royal Palace of ...

    Westminster Cathedral

    As a national expression of religious faith given by Roman Catholics to England since the ...

    Westminster, Archdiocese of

    (WESTMONASTERIENSIS). Erected and made metropolitan in 1850, comprises the Counties of ...

    Westminster, Matthew of

    The name given to the supposed author of a well-known English chronicle, the "Flores Historiarum". ...

    Weston, William

    Jesuit missionary priest, born at Maidstone, 1550 (?); died at Valladolid, Spain, 9 June, ...

    Westphalia

    A province of Prussia situated between the Rhine and the Weser. It is bounded on the northwest ...

    Wettingen-Mehrerau, Abbacy Nullius of

    A Cistercian abbey near Bregenz, Vorarlberg, Austria. The Cistercian monastery of Wettingen ...

    Wetzer, Heinrich Joseph

    Learned Orientalist, born at Anzefahr in Hesse-Cassel, 19 March, 1801; died at Freiburg in ...

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    Wh 23

    Wharton, Ven. Christopher

    Born at Middleton, Yorkshire, before 1546; martyred at York, 28 March, 1600. He was the second ...

    Wheeling, Diocese of

    (WHELINGENSIS). Comprises the State of West Virginia except the following counties, which are ...

    Whipple, Amiel Weeks

    Military engineer and soldier, born at Greenwich, Massachusetts, 1818; died at Washington, D.C., ...

    Whitaker, Venerable Thomas

    Born at Burnley, Lancashire, 1614; martyred at Lancaster, 7 August, 1646. Son of Thomas ...

    Whitbread, Venerable Thomas

    ( Alias HARCOURT). Born in Essex, 1618; martyred at Tyburn, 30 June, 1679. He was ...

    Whitby, Abbey of

    (Formerly called Streoneshalh). A Benedictine monastery in the North Riding of Yorkshire, ...

    Whitby, Synod of

    The Christianizing of Britain begun by St. Augustine in A.D. 597 was carried on with varying ...

    White Fathers

    (MISSIONARIES OF OUR LADY OF AFRICA OF ALGERIA). This society, known under the name of ...

    White, Andrew

    Missionary, b. at London, 1579; d. at or near London, 27 Dec., 1656 (O.S.). He entered St. ...

    White, Charles Ignatius

    Editor, historian, born at Baltimore, Maryland, U.S.A. 1 February, 1807; died at Washington, ...

    White, Edward

    Grandfather of Stephen Mallory White , born in County Limerick, Ireland, in the latter part of ...

    White, Eustace, Venerable

    Martyr, born at Louth, Lincolnshire, in 1560; suffered at the London Tyburn, 10 December, 1591. ...

    White, Richard, Venerable

    ( Vere GWYN). Martyr, born at Llanilloes, Montgomeryshire, about 1537; executed at Wrexham, ...

    White, Robert

    English composer, b. about 1530; d. Nov., 1574; was educated by his father, and graduated Mus. ...

    White, Stephen

    Antiquarian and polyhistor; b. at Clonmel, Ireland, in 1574; d. in Galway, 1646. He belonged to a ...

    White, Stephen Mallory

    American statesman; born at San Francisco , California, 19 January, 1853; died at Los Angeles ...

    White, Thomas

    ( Alias BLACKLOW, BLACLOE, ALBIUS, ANGLUS). Born in Essex, 1593; died in London, 6 July, ...

    Whithorn Priory

    Located in Wigtownshire, Scotland, founded about the middle of the twelfth century, in the reign ...

    Whiting, Blessed Richard

    Last Abbot of Glastonbury and martyr, parentage and date of birth unknown, executed 15 Nov., ...

    Whitsunday

    A feast of the universal Church which commemorates the Descent of the Holy Ghost upon the ...

    Whitty, Ellen

    In religion Mary Vincent, born at Pouldarrig near Oylgate, a village seven miles form the town of ...

    Whitty, Robert

    Born at Pouldarrig near Oylgate, 7 January, 1817; died 1 September, 1895. In 1830 he entered ...

    Whitty, Rose

    Born at Dublin, Ireland, 24 November, 1831; died 4 May, 1911. Of her two sisters one became a ...

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    Wi 121

    Wibald

    Abbot of Stavelot ( Stablo ), Malmedy, and Corvey, b. near Stavelot in Belgium in 1098; d. ...

    Wichita Indians

    A confederacy of Caddoan stock, formerly dwelling between the Arkansas River, Kansas, and the ...

    Wichita, Diocese of

    (WICHITENSIS). Erected in 1887, from the Diocese of Leavenworth . The territory of the new ...

    Wichmans, Francis

    In religion AUGUSTINE, born at Antwerp, 1596; died 1661. Having finished his classical studies, ...

    Widmer, Joseph

    Catholic theologian, born at Hohenraim, Lucerne, Switzerland, 15 Aug., 1779; died at ...

    Widow

    I. Canonical prescriptions concerning widows in the Old Testament refer mainly to the question ...

    Widukind

    Saxon leader, and one of the heads of the Westphalian nobility. He was the moving spirit in the ...

    Widukind of Corvey

    Historian who lived in the tenth century in the Benedictine Abbey of Corvey, Germany. He was a ...

    Wiener-Neustadt, Diocese of

    (NEOSTADTIENSIS). A suppressed see in Lower Austria. Upon the request of Frederick III it was ...

    Wiest, Stephan

    Member of the Order of Cistercians, b. at Teisbach in Lower Bavaria, 7 March, 1748; d. at ...

    Wigand, Saints

    ( Also rendered VENANTIUS). Three saints of this name are mentioned in the Roman ...

    Wigbert, Saint

    Companion of St. Boniface, born in England about 675; died at Hersfeld about 746. Positive ...

    Wigbod

    (WICBODUS, WIGBOLD, WIGBALD). Theological writer of the eighth century. Of his works there is ...

    Wigley, George J.

    Died in Rome, 20 January, 1866. By profession he was an architect, but subsequently devoted ...

    Wilberforce, Henry William

    Born at Clapham, 22 September, 1807; died at Stroud, Gloucestershire, 23 April, 1873. He was third ...

    Wilberforce, Robert Isaac

    Born at Clapham, 19 December, 1802; died at Albano, near Rome, 3 Feb. 1857. He was the second son ...

    Wilcannia, Diocese of

    (WILCANIENSIS). Located in New South Wales, one of the six suffragan sees of Sydney; consists ...

    Wilcox, Robert, Venerable

    English martyr, born at Chester, 1558; suffered at Canterbury, 1 October, 1588. He arrived at ...

    Wild, Johann

    Scriptural commentator and preacher, better known by his Latin name FERUS, b. in Swabia, 1497; d. ...

    Wilfrid, Saint

    Bishop of York, son of a Northumbrian thegn, born in 634; died at Oundle in Northamptonshire, ...

    Wilgefortis

    A fabulous female saint known also as UNCUMBER, KUMMERNIS, KOMINA, COMERA, CUMERANA, HULFE, ...

    Wilhelm of Herle

    Painter, born at Herle in Dutch Limburg at an unknown date in the fourteenth century; time and ...

    Wilhelm V

    Son of Duke Albrecht V. Born at Munich, 29 September, 1548; died at Schlessheim, 7 February, ...

    Wilhering, Cistercian Abbey of

    (HILARIA). Situated on the right bank of the Danube, in the Diocese of Linz, Austria. Ulric ...

    Will

    (Latin voluntas, Greek boúlesis, "willing" German Wille, French volonté ). ...

    Will and Testament of Clerics

    Roman law allowed clerics to dispose of their property by will or otherwise. Bishops, however, ...

    Will, Free

    RELATION OF THE QUESTION TO DIFFERENT BRANCHES OF PHILOSOPHY HISTORY Free Will in Ancient ...

    Willaert, Adrian

    Composer and founder of the Venetian school, b. at Bruges, or, according to other authorities, ...

    Willehad, Saint

    Bishop at Bremen, born in Northumberland before 745; died at Blecazze (Blexen) on the Weser, 8 ...

    Willems, Pierre

    Philologist, born at Maastricht, 6 January, 1840; died at Louvain, 23 February, 1898. Following ...

    William

    Born in Brittany, died at Marmoutiers, 23 May, 1124. For a time he was Archdeacon of Nantes, ...

    William

    Abbot of Saint-Bénigne at Dijon, celebrated Cluniac reformer, b. on the Island of ...

    William Carter, Venerable

    English martyr, born in London, 1548; suffered for treason at Tyburn, 11 January, 1584. Son of ...

    William Exmew, Blessed

    Carthusian monk and martyr ; suffered at Tyburn, 19 June, 1535. He studied at Christ's ...

    William Filby, Blessed

    Blessed William Filby Born in Oxfordshire between 1557 and 1560; suffered at Tyburn, 30 May, ...

    William Hart, Blessed

    Born at Wells, 1558; suffered at York, 15 March, 1583. Elected Trappes Scholar at Lincoln ...

    William Lacy, Blessed

    Born at "Hanton", Yorkshire (probably Houghton or Tosside, West Riding); suffered at York, 22 ...

    William of Auvergne

    Bishop of Paris, medieval philosopher and theologian. Born at Aurillac in Auvergne towards ...

    William of Auxerre

    A thirteenth-century theologian and professor at the University of Paris . William's name ...

    William of Champeaux

    A twelfth-century Scholastic, philosopher, and theologian, b. at Champeaux, near Melun, in the ...

    William of Conches

    A twelfth-century Scholastic philosopher and theologian, b. about the year 1100. After having ...

    William of Digulleville

    (DEGULLEVILLE). A French poet of the fourteenth century. Nothing is known of his life, except ...

    William of Ebelholt, Saint

    (Also called WILLIAM OF PARIS and WILLIAM OF THE PARACLETE.) Died on Easter Sunday, 1203, and ...

    William of Gellone, Saint

    Born 755; died 28 May, c. 812; was the second count of Toulouse, having attained that dignity in ...

    William of Jumièges

    (Surnamed CALCULUS.) Benedictine historian of the eleventh century. Practically nothing seems ...

    William of Maleval, Saint

    (or ST. WILLIAM THE GREAT). Died 10 February, 1157; beatified in 1202. His life, written ...

    William of Malmesbury

    Born 30 November, about 1090; died about 1143. He was educated at Malmesbury, where he became a ...

    William of Moerbeke

    Scholar, Orientalist, philosopher, and one of the most distinguished men of letters of the ...

    William of Nangis

    (GUILHELMUS). A medieval chronicler, who takes his name from the City of Nancy, France. ...

    William of Newburgh

    Historian, b. at Bridlington, Yorkshire, 1136; d. at Newburgh, Yorkshire, 1198, where he went as ...

    William of Norwich, Saint

    Born 1132; died 22 March, 1144. On Holy Saturday, 25 March, 1144, a boy's corpse showing signs of ...

    William of Ockham

    Fourteenth-century Scholastic philosopher and controversial writer, born at or near the village ...

    William of Paris, Saint

    Abbot of Eskill in Denmark, born 1105; died 1202. He was born of a noble French family, and ...

    William of Perth, Saint

    (Or ST. WILLIAM OF ROCHESTER). Martyr, born at Perth ; died about 1201. Practically all that ...

    William of Poitiers

    Norman historian, born of a noted family, at Préaux near Pont Audemer, Normandy, about 1020. ...

    William of Ramsey

    Flourished about 1219. Nothing is known of his life except that he was a monk of Crowland Abbey ...

    William of Sens

    A twelfth-century French architect, supposed to have been born at Sens. He is referred to in ...

    William of Shoreham

    ( Or de Schorham.) An English religious writer of the Anglo-Norman period, born at ...

    William of St-Amour

    A thirteenth century theologian and controversialist, born in Burgundy in the first decades of ...

    William of St-Thierry

    Theologian and mystic, and so called from the monastery of which he was abbot, b. at ...

    William of Turbeville

    (TURBE, TURBO, or DE TURBEVILLE). Bishop of Norwich (1146-74), b. about 1095; d. at Norwich ...

    William of Tyre

    Archbishop of Tyre and historian, born probably in Palestine, of a European family which had ...

    William of Vercelli

    (Or WILLIAM OF MONTE VERGINE.) The founder of the Hermits of Monte Vergine, or Williamites, ...

    William of Ware

    (William de Warre, Guard, Guaro, Varro or Varron.) Born at Ware in Herts; the date of his ...

    William of Wayneflete

    Bishop of Winchester and Chancellor of England, b. towards the end of the fourteenth century; ...

    William of Wykeham

    Bishop of Winchester, Chancellor of England and founder of Winchester College ; b. between ...

    William Perault

    (PERAULD, PERALDUS, PERALTUS). Writer and preacher, b. at Perault, France ; d. at Lyons ; ...

    William the Clerk (of Normandy)

    French poet of the thirteenth century. Nothing is known of his life except that he was a clerk of ...

    William the Conqueror

    King of England and Duke of Normandy. William was the natural son of Robert, Duke of ...

    William the Walloon

    Date of birth unknown; d. (probably) 22 Dec., 1089. He became Abbot of St. Arnoul at Metz in ...

    William, Blessed

    Abbot of Hirschau, monastic reformer, born in Bavaria ; died at Hirschau, 5 July 1091. He ...

    William, Saint

    (WILLIAM FITZHERBERT, also called WILLIAM OF THWAYT). Archbishop of York. Tradition ...

    William, Saint

    Bishop of St-Brieuc, born in the parish of St. Alban, Brittany, between 1178 and 1184; died ...

    Williamites

    There were two minor religious orders or congregations of this name: (1) a Benedictine ...

    Willibald and Winnebald, Saints

    (WUNIBALD, WYNNEBALD). Members of the Order of St. Benedict, brothers, natives probably of ...

    Willibrord, Saint

    Bishop of Utrecht, Apostle of the Frisians, and son of St. Hilgis, born in Northumbria, 658; ...

    Willigis, Saint

    Archbishop of Mainz, d. 23 Feb., 1011. Feast, 23 February or 18 April. Though of humble birth ...

    Williram

    (WALTRAM, WILTRAM). Scriptural scholar, b. in Franconia (near Worms), Germany ; d. in 1085 at ...

    Wilmers, Wilhelm

    Professor of philosophy and theology, b. at Boke in Westphalia, 30 January, 1817; d. at ...

    Wilmington, Diocese of

    (WILMINGTONIENSIS). Erected 3 March, 1868. It includes what is known as the Delmarvia ...

    Wilton Abbey

    A Benedictine convent in Wiltshire, England, three miles from Salisbury. A first foundation was ...

    Wilton, Richard

    Died December 21, 1239. He was a medieval scholar of whom little is known except that he was an ...

    Wimborne Minster

    ( Also WIMBURN or WINBURN). Located in Dorsetshire, England. Between the years 705-23 a ...

    Wimmer, Boniface

    Archabbot, b. at Thalmassing, Bavaria, 14 January, 1809; d. at St. Vincent Archabbey, Beatty, ...

    Wimpfeling, Jakob

    Humanist and theologian, b. at Schlettstadt, Alsace, 25 July 1450; d. there, 17 Nov., 1528. He ...

    Wimpina, Konrad

    (WIMINAE, WIMINESIS). Theologian, b. at Buchen in Baden, about 1465; d. at Amorbach in Lower ...

    Winchester, Ancient See of

    (WINTONIA, WINTONIENSIS). This diocese came into existence in 635 when the great ...

    Winckelmann, Johann Joachim

    Archaeologist and historian of ancient art, born at Stendal near Magdeburg, in 1717; assassinated ...

    Windesheim

    An Augustinian monastery situated about four miles south of Zwolle on the Issel, in the Kingdom ...

    Winding Sheet of Christ, Feast of the Holy

    In 1206 one of the (supposed) Winding Sheets used at the burial of Christ was brought to ...

    Windischmann, Friedrich Heinrich Hugo

    Orientalist and exegete, b. at Aschaffenburg, 13 December, 1811; d. at Munich, 23 August, ...

    Windischmann, Karl Joseph Hieronymus

    Philosopher, b. at Mainz, 25 August, 1775; d. at Bonn, 23 April, 1839. He attended the gymnasium ...

    Window, Rose

    A circular window, with mullions and traceries generally radiating from the centre, and filled ...

    Windows in Church Architecture

    From the beginning Christian churches, in contrast to the ancient temples, were intended to be ...

    Windsor

    A town of great antiquity, on the Thames, in Berkshire, England ; quaintly rendered Ventus ...

    Windthorst, Ludwig

    Born near Osnabrück, 17 January, 1812; died 14 March, 1891. He came from a family of ...

    Wine, Altar

    Wine is one of the two elements absolutely necessary for the sacrifice of the Eucharist. For valid ...

    Winefride, Saint

    Born at Holywell, Wales, about 600; died at Gwytherin, Wales, 3 Nov., 660. Her father was ...

    Wingham, Thomas

    Born in London, 5 January, 1846; died there, 24 March, 1893. He studied music at Wylde's London ...

    Winnebago Indians

    A tribe of Siouan stock closely related in speech to the Iowa, Missouri, and Oto, and more ...

    Winnebald and Willibald, Saints

    (WUNIBALD, WYNNEBALD). Members of the Order of St. Benedict, brothers, natives probably of ...

    Winnoc, Saint

    Abbot or Prior or Wormhoult, died 716 or 717. Three lives of this saint are extant: the best of ...

    Winona, Diocese of

    (WINONENSIS). Established in 1889, suffragan of St. Paul, comprises the following counties in ...

    Winslow, Jakob Benignus

    (WINSLOW). Physician and anatomist, b. at Odense, Denmark, 27 April, 1669; d. in Paris, 3 ...

    Winwallus, Saint

    Abbot of Landevennec; d. 3 March, probably at the beginning of the sixth century, though the ...

    Winzet, Ninian

    Benedictine abbot and controversial writer, b. at Renfrew, Scotland, 1518; d. at Ratisbon, 21 ...

    Wipo

    (WIPPO). Apparently a native of Burgundy, lived in the first half of the eleventh century. He ...

    Wireker, Nigel

    Satirist, lived about 1190. He describes himself as old in the "Speculum Stultorum", which was ...

    Wirt, Wigand

    Theologian, born at Frankfort about 1460; died at Steyer, 30 June, 1519. He entered the ...

    Wisconsin

    Known as the "Badger State", admitted to the Union on 29 May, 1848, the seventeenth state ...

    Wisdom, Book of

    One of the deutero-canonical writings of the Old Testament, placed in the Vulgate between the ...

    Wisdom, Daughters of

    (LES FILLES DE LA SAGESSE). Founded at Poitiers by Blessed Louis-Marie Grignion de Montfort ...

    Wise Men (Magi)

    (Plural of Latin magus ; Greek magoi ). The "wise men from the East" who came to adore ...

    Wiseman, Nicholas Patrick

    Cardinal, first Archbishop of Westminster ; b. at Seville, 2 Aug., 1802; d. in London, 15 ...

    Witchcraft

    It is not easy to draw a clear distinction between magic and witchcraft. Both are concerned with ...

    Witness

    One who is present, bears testimony, furnishes evidence or proof. Witnesses are employed in ...

    Witt, Francis Xavier

    Reformer of church music, founder of the St. CeciliaSociety for German-speaking countries, ...

    Wittenberg

    The city is in Prussian Saxony and was founded by Albert the Bear (d. 1170). He had conquered ...

    Wittman, George Michael

    Bishop-elect of Ratisbon, b. near Pleistein, Oberpfalz, Bavaria, 22 (23?) Jan., 1760; d. at ...

    Wittman, Patrizius

    Catholic journalist, b. at Ellwanger, Würtemberg, 4 January, 1818; d. at Munich, 3 ...

    Witzel, Georg

    (WICELIUS). Theologian, b. at Vacha, Province of Hesse, 1501; d. at Mainz, 16 Feb., 1573. He ...

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    Wl 1

    Wladislaw, Diocese of

    (Polish WLOCLAWEK; Latin VLADISLAVIENSIS ET POMERANLAE). The historical origin of this ...

    × Close

    Wo 23

    Wolff, George Dering

    Editor, b. at Martinsburg, West Virginia , 25 Aug., 1822; d. at Norristown, Pennsylvania, 29 ...

    Wolfgang, Saint

    Bishop of Ratisbon (972-994), born about 934; died at the village of Pupping in upper Austria, ...

    Wolfram von Eschenbach

    Generally regarded as the greatest of Middle-High-German epic poets, date of birth unknown; d. ...

    Wolgemut, Michael

    Painter and engraver, b. at Nuremberg, 1434; d. there, 1519. He was the most prominent artist of ...

    Wolowski, Louis-François-Michel-Reymond

    Born at Warsaw, 31 Aug., 1810; d. at Gisors, Eure, 15 Aug., 1876. His father, a member of the ...

    Wolsey, Thomas

    Cardinal, Archbishop of York, b. at Ipswitch, the usually accepted date, 1471, being probably ...

    Wolstan, Saint

    Benedictine, and Bishop of Worcester, b. at Long Itchington, Warwickshire, England, about 1008; ...

    Woman

    Of late years the position of woman in human society has given rise to a discussion which, as part ...

    Wood, Thomas

    Priest and confessor, b. about 1499; d. in Wisbech Castle before 1588. After being prebendary ...

    Wood-Carving

    In general, the production from wood of objects of trade or art by means of sharp instruments, as ...

    Woodcock, Venerable John

    English Franciscan martyr, b. at Leyland, Lancashire, 1603; suffered at Lancaster, 7 August, ...

    Woodhead, Abraham

    Born at Almonbury, Yorkshire, about March, 1609; died at Hoxton, Middlesex, 4 May, 1678. This ...

    Woodhouse, Blessed Thomas

    Martyr who suffered at Tyburn 19 June, 1573, being disembowelled alive. Ordained in Mary's ...

    Woods, Julian Edmund Tenison

    Priest and scientist, b. at Southwark, London, 15 Nov., 1832; d. at Sydney, New South Wales, 7 ...

    Worcester, Ancient Diocese of

    (WIGORNIENSIS.) Located in England, created in 680 when, at the Synod of Hatfield under ...

    Words (in Canon Law)

    To give the right value to words is a very important factor in the proper interpretation of ...

    World, Antiquity of the

    Various attempts have been made to establish the age of the world. Two groups of scientists have ...

    Wormwood

    ( Hebrew la'anah .) Wormwood, known for its repulsive bitterness ( Jeremiah 9:15 ; 23:15 ; ...

    Worship, Christian

    NOTION AND CHARACTERISTICS The word worship (Saxon weorthscipe , "honour"; from worth , ...

    Worsley, Edward

    Born in Lancashire, England, 1605; died at Antwerp, 2 Sept., 1676. He is said to have been ...

    Worthington, Thomas, D.D.

    Third President of Douai College , b. 1549 at Blainscough Hall, near Wigan, Lancashire; d. at ...

    Wounds, The Five Sacred

    Devotion The revival of religious life and the zealous activity of St. Bernard and St. ...

    Wouters, G. Henry

    Historian, b. at Oostham, Belgian Limburg, 3 May, 1802; d. 5 January, 1872. In 1829 he became ...

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    Wr 2

    Wright, Venerable Peter

    Martyr, b. at Slipton, Northamptonshire, 1603; suffered at Tyburn, 19 May, 1651. After spending ...

    Wright, William

    Born at York, 1562; died 18 Jan., 1639. Though he came late (23) to his studies, he then made ...

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    Wu 2

    Wulfen, Franz Xaver Freiherr von

    Botanist, b. at Belgrade, 5 November, 1728; d. at Klagenfurt, 17 March, 1805. He was the son of ...

    Wulfram, Saint

    (VULFRAMNUS.) Bishop of Sens, missionary in Frisi, born at Milly near Fontainebleau, probably ...

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    Wy 5

    Wyart, Théophile-Louis-Henri

    (In religion DOM SEBASTIAN). Abbot of Cîteaux and Abbot-General of the Order of ...

    Wyche, Saint Richard de

    Bishop and confessor, b. about 1197 at Droitwich, Worcestershire, from which his surname is ...

    Wyclif, John

    (WYCLIFFE, or WICLIF, etc.). Writer and "reformer", b. probably at Hipswell near Richmond, ...

    Wyntoun, Andrew of

    Scottish chronicler, born (as we know from the internal evidence of his writings) in the reign ...

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