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Faith and fatigue in the Extreme Way of the Cross in Poland

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)108-122
Number of pages15
JournalReligion, State and Society
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 3 Apr 2018

King's Authors


In this article, I examine a new religious initiative of the Roman Catholic Church in Poland called the Extreme Way of the Cross (EWC, Ekstremalna Droga Krzyżowa). Proclaimed as a ‘new form of spirituality’, the EWC has rapidly become a nation-wide phenomenon, with more than 450 routes and 52,000 registered participants in 2017. I start with a description of the history, organisational features and main principles of the EWC, followed by the social-religious profiles of its participants. Drawing on Elaine Peña’s concept of ‘devotional labor’, I shed light on how a strenuous, long night-time walk, combined with the rule of silence and meditation on the Passion of Christ, can lead EWC participants to an immediate experience of the sacred, in which a fatigued human body plays a central role. To this end, I discuss the EWC in the context of the traditional Catholic Ways of the Cross and Passion Plays, and contemporary pilgrimage in the Western Christianity.

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