Pope CLEMENS XII (1652 – 1740) – Lodovico PICO DELLA MIRANDOLA (1668 – 1743).
[Necessary Instructions to Regulate the Devout Exercise of the Via Crucis]
Rome: April 3, 1731.
A highly important broadside is the first decree to regulate the Stations of the Cross, one of the most popular devotions in Western Christianity. The regulations were made by pope Clemens XII (1652 – 1740) and written by his secretary Cardinal Lodovico Pico della Mirandola (1668 – 1743) from an Italian noble family.
The Stations of the Cross have their origins in pilgrimage to Jerusalem and desire to reproduce the Via Dolorosa. The stations with images depicting Jesus Christ on the day of his crucifixion, which Christians should follow on the way to the church, were erected around in irregular numbers through the centuries until they started concentrating around Franciscan edifices in 15th and 16th centuries.
It was not until April 3, 1731, that the pope issued a decree, regulating the number and liturgy around the stations, which became the basis for all the Stations of the Cross in Western Christianity until today.
The broadside lists 9 regulations for the men and women. The important points of the decree are, that the right to practice the Stations of the Cross was extended to all the churches, provided that they were erected by Franciscan fathers. Each church should have two series of fixed 14 stations; first stations should be constructed on the way to the church and a smaller set inside on the walls of the church for greater convenience. This regulation determined the decoration of church walls and 14 stations leading to edifices, as we know them today.
This ephemeral broadside, printed in Rome by the Press of the Holy Seat and distributed among people and clergy and is today exceedingly rare. We could only trace one institutional example in Worldcat (Library and Information Centre of the Hungarian Academy of Sciences).
References: OCLC 1014761357.