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Via Dolorosa

The Via Dolorosa means Path of Sorrow. It traces the route that Jesus walked with his cross from the site of condemnation (Praetorium) to his crucifixion, the death of Jesus and his grave. There are fourteen stations of the cross. Most of the stations are derived from scripture, while the sixth station (Veronica wiping the face of Christ) is said to come from tradition. Another tradition tells of the Virgin Mary visiting each of the sites every day.

The stations were first charted during the time of the Crusaders. Before this time, there was no set form of contemplating Christ’s Passion but we do know from St. Jerome that large crowds of Christians from many countries used to come to Jerusalem to pray as early as the fourth century.

When the Crusaders were forced to flee and it was no longer possible to visit the sites, churches all over the world created their own Way of the Cross. Some churches had small shrines leading up to the entrance while others placed the stations within. Today, nearly every church in the world contains its own Path of Sorrow as a means of contemplation for a Christian.

There is now new archaeological evidence that suggests a different route, however millions of pilgrims and tourists visit Jerusalem to walk the traditional route. As pilgrims walk the path, they use the stations to meditate upon Jesus on the cross, their love for Jesus and the sacrifice he made for them. Pilgrims start at St. Stephen Gate. The last five stations are within the Church of the Holy Sepulchre.

First Station
Antonia Fortress

Jesus is brought to Pontius Pilate, the Roman curator, to be judged. Since it is Passover, Pontius Pilate is staying close to the Temple. Jesus is condemned to death.

    Then Pilate released Barabbas to them. But he had Jesus flogged, and handed him over to be crucified. (Matthew 27,26)

Second Station
Condemnation Chapel

Jesus is condemned to death by crucifixion and he receives the cross here. The Chapel of Flagellation marks the spot where he was flogged by the Roman soldiers. To venerate this moment, there is a crown of thorns here in a dome.

The Ecce Home Arch is the site of the mansion of Pontius Pilate, where he looked down at Jesus, saying, “Behold the Man.” In the present day Convent of Sisters of Zion, there are excavations below that reveal a large room, believed to be the Judgement Hall.

    So the soldiers took charge of Jesus. Carrying His Own Cross, He Went out to the place of the Skull (which in Aramaic is called Golgotha). (John 19,17)

Third Station

Here Jesus fell to his knees for the first time. A Polish chapel stand on the spot with a relief depicting Jesus kneeling under the cross.

Fourth Station

A small chapel stands here in memory of the moment Jesus looks up and sees his mother Mary. There is a relief of Jesus and Mary marking this spot

    This child is destined to cause the fall and rise of many in Israel, and to be a sign that will be spoken against, so that the thoughts of many hearts will be revealed. (Luke 2, 34-35))

Fifth Station

Simon of Cyrene volunteers to carry the cross for Jesus.

    As they led Jesus away, they seized Simon from Cyrene, who was on his way in from the country, and put the cross on him and made him carry it behind Jesus. (Luke 23, 26)

Sixth Station

Veronica wipes Jesus' face with her veil. The mark of Jesus’ face stayed on the cloth. The cloth is on display in the Greek Orthodox Patriarchate.

    Without beauty, without majesty (we saw him), no looks to attract our eyes; a thing despised and rejected by men, a man of sorrows and familiar with suffering, a man to make people screen their faces; he was despised and we took no account of him. John 15:1

Seventh Station

Jesus falls a second time, most likely because of the steep road. During the first century, this was the gateway from the city with open countryside beyond. Bible scholars say that condemnation posters with Jesus’ name were probably pasted on the gate as Jesus walked past with the cross.

Eighth Station

Jesus meets the women of Jerusalem. They are crying and he turns to them, telling them not to pity him.

    A large number of people followed Him, including women who mourned and wailed for Him. Jesus Turned and Said to them, "Daughters of Jerusalem, do not weep for me; weep for yourselves and for your children...For if men do these things when the tree is green, what will happen when it is dry?" (Luke 23:28)

Ninth Station
Coptic Church.

This is where Jesus fell for the third time. The Coptic Church is made up of three small churches. Stations X through XIV, the site of Golgotha (the place of the crucifixion) are set in the Church of the Holy Sepulchre.


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