The Way of the Cross or Stations of the Cross (Via Crucis, also called Via Dolorosa) is part of the Easter tradition in Catholic countries. It takes place on Good Friday (this year, 2013, on April 18) and can be seen as an imitation of the sufferings of Christ from the moment he left the courthouse (Pontius Pilatus’ abode) to his place of execution, the hill of Calvary (also known as Golgotha).
The word station is derived from the Latin word statio, meaning “standing still”.
There are 14 official stations, though not all of these are specifically mentioned in the Bible itself. The stations all refer to different stages of Jesus’ last journey to the Golgotha.
Pope John Paul II started the tradition of a public prayer on Good Friday. The Pope will walk from the Colosseum to the Palatine Hill from where he will hold a speech.
Note that on Good Friday 2014 the Colosseum, Roman Forum and Palatine Hill will close at 2PM.