Stations of the Cross: Catholics celebrate Good Friday at the basilica

SAN JUAN — Love and mercy was the message at the heart of one of the Rio Grande Valley’s most impactful events in observance of Good Friday, Bishop Daniel Flores said Friday afternoon.

More than 1,000 people — young and old alike — walked solemnly behind Flores and Father Amador Garza as they made their way through each of the stations of the cross, located outside of the Basilica of the National Shrine of Our Lady of San Juan del Valle. Garza also serves as rector of the Basilica.

“It’s a powerful day for the Catholic faith,” Flores said about Good Friday, which represents the day Jesus Christ suffered and died on the cross. “It helps to prepare us for Easter.”

Devout Catholics from across the United States and Mexico make the procession each year around the Basilica grounds as a way of accompanying Christ with devotion and prayer through his last moments on earth, Flores said.

Frank and Maria Williams are just two of the many who attend the event each year. They left their home in Houston to participate in the local events centered on Easter.

“I’ve been here before, and I’ve seen a lot of miraculous things that happened in my life,” Maria Williams said after the procession. “And that’s the reason why I’m here.”

The couple said they wanted to “get away from familiar places, and just be quiet with the Lord.”

They found that quiet place at the Basilica in San Juan, which they called beautiful.

“I really felt peace and some kind of inner healing since we came here last Wednesday,” Maria Williams said. “We wanted to experience the Lord’s joy and the journey through the cross.”

Flores said the main idea behind the tradition is to remember what God sacrificed to save the world.

“This is to see what he has done for us and to do the same — be an agent of love and mercy,” Flores said.

About the ceremony

For Roman Catholics throughout the world, the Stations of the Cross are synonymous with Lent, Holy Week and, especially Good Friday. This devotion is also known as the “Way of the Cross”, the “Via Crucis”, and the “Via Dolorosa.” It commemorates 14 key events on day of Christ’s death. The majority of them concern His final walk through the streets of Jerusalem carrying the Cross.