[quote=Della]The 3 synoptic Gospels all tell us that “as they led [Jesus] out [to be crucified] they compelled Simon of Cyrene to carry the cross…”. John’s Gospel tells us that Jesus carried his own cross and says nothing about Simon of Cyrene. The tradition is (note it is a small “t” tradition or legend) that Jesus began to carry his cross, but couldn’t go on because of his weakened condition after his brutal flogging. The Romans would see he needed someone else to carry it, but probably only after he had fallen with it. After all, they wouldn’t care if he was having trouble but only that he was holding things up. Someone else might have a quote from an early Church document for this tradition. In any case, it does not violate Scripture to believe he fell 3 times. The fact is, he probably fell more times than that, but 3 is a number that stands for “more than 2 times” in biblical understanding. If the tradition does not violate Scripture then there is no reason why we cannot suppose Jesus fell at least 3 times carrying his cross.
The story is supposedly a lower-case-T tradition, which became included in the stations.
However, the verse may not be totally without Biblical precedent.
The Bible is crowded with “pictures” of Christ’s passion and death. So that, for instance, as another participant in this site observed, Isaac carrying the wood of his sacrifice is a picture of Jesus carrying His Own cross. When God tells the Satan serpent in Genesis that “He will strike at your head, while you strike at His heel,” this is a picture of the cross piercing the ground at SKULL place – get it? – while the nail piecres Christ’s feet!
Well, at 1 Samuel 20:35-41, Jonathan fires an arrow, apparently into a large mound behind which David is hiding, and David then falls three times on his face before Jonathan.
Did an insightful reader of Scripture in the Early Church see in this story a picture of Christ falling three times as He walked toward the cross on the hill – the arrow in the mound?