Day 5 (1) The Via Dolorosa (Way of Grief or Way of Suffering)

The Via Dolorosa (Latin for Way of Grief or Way of Suffering)
This day was perhaps the most fulfilling day with our visit to the Way of Grief. We started early to enter the City of Old Jeruslaem through the St. Stephen's Gate or Lione Gate. Entering the city suddenly takes one back in time. The whole city has been maintained as it was centuries back. The stone paved narrow streets, old fashioned houses nad shops all take one back to His times. As we walked through the streets, which was not so crowded as it was early morning, scenes of the Way of the Cross started to unravel before us.
The First stop is The Church of Condemnation and Flagellation, where we begin the Via Dolorosa.The name of Via Dolorosa (or Via Crisis) is relatively recent when a name was sought for the stretch of road, between the fortress Antonia and Golgotha, along which Christ walked bowed under the weight of the cross. Monastery of the Flagellation, where Jesus was questioned by Pilate and then condemned."Then Pilate therefore took Jesus, and scourged him.And the soldiers platted a crown of thorns, and put it on his head, and they put on him a purple robe, And said , Hail, King of Jews! and they smote him with their hands" (John, XIX 1-3). Arch of Ecce Homo, in memory of the words pronounced by Pilate as he showed Jesus to the crowd, erected under Hadrian(135 AD) to celebrate the capture of Jerusalem.

The third station commemorates Christ's first fall on the Via Dolorosa. The place is marked by a small chapel belonging to the Armenian Catholic Patriarchate. The meeting between Jesus and his Mother is commemorated by a small oratory with an exquisite lunette over the entrance, adorned by a bas-relief carved by the Polish artist Zieliensky. An inscription on the architrave of one door recalls the encounter between Jesus and Simon the Cyrenian, Greek Catholics preserves the memory of the meeting between Jesus and Veronica, whose tomb may also be seen here. The place of J picturesque and lively Market Street. On the outer wall of a Greek Orthodox monastery is carved a small cross blackened by time. It was at that point that Jesus met the pious women. The third fall of Jesus is commemorated by a column of the Roman period at the entrance to the Coptic monastery.The last five Stations of the Cross are situated inside the Church of Holy Sepulchre.

Station 1 is Jesus' condemnation by Pontius Pilate (Mt 27:11-24; Mk 15:1-15; Lk 23:1-25; John 18:28-19:16). This event is held to have occurred at the site of Madrasa al-Omariya, 300m west of the Lion's Gate. The madrasa is still used as a school and can be entered with the permission of the caretaker at specific times (Mon-Thu, Sat 2:30-6; Fri 2:30-4pm). As mentioned above, an alternative location for this event is Herod's Palace at Jaffa Gate.

Station 2 is where Jesus took up his cross. This is located next to the Franciscan Monastery of the Flagellation, across the road from the First Station.

The Chapel of Judgment/Condemnation, on the left, marks the site where Jesus was sentenced to death; the Chapel of the Flagellation, on the right, is where he was beaten by Roman soldiers (Mt 27:27-30; Mk 15:16-19; Jn 19:1-3).

From here, the Via Dolorosa turns south on Tariq Bab al-Ghawanima and passes the northwestern gate of the Temple Mount, Bab al-Ghawanima. Up ahead on the north side of the Via Dolorosa is the Convent of the Sisters of Zion, which contains large pieces of the Lithostratos (Pavement of Justice).

The Lithostratos stone slab has grooves carved in it, which are variously interpreted as channels for rainwater or traction for horses. What is clear, though, is that the squares and triangles on the slabs were made by game-playing Roman soldiers. The floor has been dated to the time of Hadrian (AD 117-138) and therefore postdates Jesus, but it is still fascinating and serves to bring to life the Gospel account of soldiers gambling for Jesus' clothes.

Just west of the entrance to the Lithostratos is the Ecce Homo Arch, where Pilate identified Jesus to the crowd saying "Ecco homo" ("Behold the man" - Jn 19:5). The arch is part of a gate dating from Emperor Hadrian's time and was given its present name in the 16th century.

Marked by a relief sculpture above the door of a small Polish chapel at the junction with al-Wad Road, Station 3 is where Jesus fell for the first time under the weight of his cross. Station 4 is where Mary watched her son go by with the cross, and is commemorated at the Armenian Church of Our Lady of the Spasm. (Neither of these events is recorded in the Bible.) Be sure to go inside the church to see the remarkable 5th-century floor mosaic, which includes an outline of a pair of sandals, said to be Mary's footprints.

At Station 5, Simon of Cyrene was forced by Roman soldiers to help Jesus carry this cross (Mt 27:32; Mk 15:21; Lk 23:26). This is located on the corner where the Via Dolorosa turns west off al-Wad Road and begins to narrow as it goes uphill.

At the top of a steep hill is Station 6, where, according to a tradition dating from the 14th century, St. Veronica wiped Jesus' face with her handkerchief, leaving an image of his face imprinted on the cloth. The relic, known as the Sudarium or Veronica, is kept at St. Peter's Basilica in Rome. Veronica's name may derive from the Latin vera icon, "true image."

Station 6 is commemorated by the Church of the Holy Face, served by the “Little Sisters,” a Greek Catholic rite. The chapelis part of the Crusader monastery of St. Cosmos and was refurbished by Barluzzi in 1953. Inside are refurbished Crusader arches.

At Station 7, Jesus fell for a second time. This is marked by a Franciscan chapel at the Via Dolorosa's junction with Souq Khan al-Zeit.

Station 8 is across the market street and up the steps of Aqabat al-Khanqah, opposite the Station VIII Souvenir Bazaar. A cross and the Greek inscription "NIKA" on the wall of the Greek Orthodox Monastery of St. Charalambos mark the place where Jesus consoled the lamenting women of Jerusalem (Lk 23:27-31).

A rather confusing route across Souq Khan al-Zeit, south down Khan al-Zeit, and up 28 stone steps leads to Station 9 at the Coptic Patriarchate next to the Church of the Holy Sepulchre. Here, a Roman pillar marks the site of Jesus' third fall.

Stations 10-14 are all inside the Church of the Holy Sepulchre. To get to the entrance from Station 9, head south down Souq Khan al-Zeit to the end, turn right into Souq al-Dabbagha and go straight on to the doorway at the end of the street. See the Church of the Holy Sepulchre article, and the interactive floor plan of the church, for details and photos. Briefly, the last five stations are as follows:

  1. Jesus is stripped - top of the stairs to the right outside the entrance
  2. Jesus is nailed to the cross - upstairs just inside the entrance, at the Latin Calvary
  3. Jesus dies on the cross - Rock of Golgotha in the Greek Orthodox Calvary
  4. Jesus is taken down from the cross - statue of Our Lady of Sorrows next to the Latin Calvary
  5. Jesus is laid in the tomb - in the edicule on the main floor, inside the tiny Chapel of the Holy Sepulchre(From http://www.sacred-destinations.com/israel/jerusalem-via-dolorosa.htm) (Also see http://www.biblewalks.com/Sites/ViaDolorosa.html)

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