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Via Dolorosa & the Stations of the Cross

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Old City, Jerusalem

The Via Dolorosa, translated as the Way of Sorrows, is the path which Jesus took as he carried the cross during his final hours from his condemnation to his crucifixion, in the Christian tradition. When taking this route, one follows the same used during the Middle Ages passing through the Muslim and Christian Quarters of the Old City.


First Station: The Place of the Condemnation

Traditionally, the Court of Law or the Praetorium, was located in the fortress of Antonia. Today the site is a Muslim school, Madrasa al-Omariya, and the traditional starting point of the Via Dolorosa is opposite the school at the Chapel of Condemnation, which is an early 20th century structure built upon the site of a medieval three aisled chapel. There is some debate as to whether this is in fact the site of the Praetorium. Some archaeologists believe the location to be near Jaffa Gate, under the Citadel.


Second Station: The Burden of the Cross

The Second Station of the Cross marks the spot where Jesus took up the cross. Just outside the Church of the Condemnation there is a stone which is thought to mark the beginning of the famous lithostrotos (‘pavement’ in Greek), where Pontius Pilate handed down his judgment (John 19:13). This is the site where the cross was placed on Jesus, who then carried it to the place of his execution (John 19:16-17).

Nearby is the Roman Catholic Church of the Flagellation, standing on the remains of the ruins of a Crusader church. The current Chapel of Flagellation was built between 1927 and 1929, and was design by Antonio Barluzzi. A very interesting facet of the Church are the three stained glass windows depicting different scenes, namely, the washing of Pilate’s hands from the guilt of Jesus, the scourging and crowning of Jesus with the crown of thorns, and the victory cry of Barabbas on his release. The Church is thought to be built on the site where Jesus was flogged by Roman soldiers before beginning his journey on the Via Dolorosa.

The site also contains the Roman Catholic Ecce Homo Church, now part of the Convent of the Sisters of Zion, which contains the first arch of a three-arched Roman gateway. The second arch crosses the pathway outside and the third arch was demolished along with the Uzbek Dervish Monastery that it was incorporated into on the other side of the street. The sight of the Ecce Homo Arch traditionally marks the spot where Pontius Pilate presented Jesus to the crowds and said “Behold the Man,” in Latin ecce homo (John 19:5).

Church of the Condemnation and Chapel of the Flagellation
Opening hours: Summer (April – September) 8:00a.m. – 6:00p.m.; Winter (October – March) 8:00a.m. – 5:00p.m.
Location: Via Dolorosa, Old City Jerusalem
Tel: +972 (02) 6282936

Ecce Homo Church and the Convent of the Sisters of Zion
Opening hours: Monday-Saturday, 8:30a.m. – 5:00p.m.
Entrance fee: 6NIS


Third Station: Jesus Falls for the First Time

The Third Station of the Cross can be found immediately after the left turn from Via Dolorosa Road onto El Wad Road. The Polish Catholic Chapel, so called because it was restored in 1948 by donations from Polish soldiers, marks the spot where Jesus fell for the first time. This scene is depicted by a small stone carving above the chapel. A metal plaque reading “III ” can be found above the Chapel door. The Chapel is part of the Armenian Catholic Patriarchate.


Forth Station: Jesus Meets his Mother

To the right of the third Station, on El-Wad Street, lies the entrance to the Armenian Catholic Patriarchate and the Church of Our Lady of Spasm marking the forth Station of the Cross where Jesus met his mother. (John 19:26) The Church is identified by its blue doors, above which can be found an image of the Virgin Mary with Jesus. The station is marked by a metal plaque engraved with “IV.”

Armenian Catholic Patriarchate
Opening hours: Open for Church Services on Sundays, 9:00a.m. services are held in Arabic.
Location: Via Dolorosa 36, Old City, Jerusalem
Tel: 02-6260880/6284262
Fax: 02-6272123


Fifth Station: Simon of Cyrene Helps Jesus

Just after the right turn back onto Via Dolorosa Road from El Wad Road, lies a Franciscan Chapel built in the 19th century, marking the site where Simon of Cyrene took up the cross for Jesus (Luke 23:26). The Station marker “V St” can be found on the brown doors to the left. From this point the Via Dolorosa climbs towards Golgotha.


The Sixth Station: Veronica Wipes the Face of Jesus

Further along Via Dolorosa Road is the Church of St. Veronica, which marks the spot where Saint Veronica used her veil to wipe the face of Jesus. The Church is cared for by the “Little Sisters of Jesus,” and lies on the site where Veronica is believed to have lived. In 1883, the site was acquired by the Greek Catholic Church. A column stands at the site with “VI” carved into it.


The Seventh Station: Jesus Falls for the Second Time

At the junction of Via Dolorosa Road with Souk Kahn As-Zeit Street, a Franciscan Chapel marks the spot where tradition holds Jesus fell for the second time, while passing out of the city through this gate.


The Eighth Station: Jesus Speaks to the Women of Jerusalem

A great number of the people followed him, and among them were women who were beating their breasts and wailing for him. But Jesus turned to them and said, “Daughters of Jerusalem, do not weep for me, but weep for yourselves and for your children. For the days are surely coming when they will say, “Blessed are the barren, and the wombs that never bore, and the breasts that never nursed.” They then will begin to say to the mountains, ‘Fall on us’ and to the hills ‘Cover us.’ For if they do this when the wood is green, what will happen when it is dry?” (Luke 23:27-30)

Continuing onto Aqabat Al-Khanqa Street, the site of the Eighth Station is marked by a small “VIII” on the walls of the Greek Orthodox Monastery of St. Caralambos and commemorates Jesus addressing the women of Jerusalem.


The Ninth Station: Jesus Falls for the Third Time

Go back to Souk Kahn As-Zeit Street and follow the stairs up to the entrance to the Coptic Chapel. A column on the left marks the Ninth Station of the Cross, where Jesus fell for the third time. Passing through the gate onto the roof of the Holy Sepulchre visitors will reach the Ethiopian Monastery, occupying the ruins of the 12th century Canons’ Cloister. A doorway on the southwest of this roof leads into the narrow Chapel of the Ethiopians, from which steps descend via the Coptic Chapel of St. Michael to the courtyard outside the Church of the Holy Sepulchre.


The Tenth-Fourteenth Stations:

The remaining Stations are located inside the Church of the Holy Sepulchre.

The Tenth Station marks where Jesus was stripped of His clothes. Here, visitors can peer into the Latin Chapel through a special window. The Eleventh Station is the site of the crucifixion. On the Crest of Golgotha, a Latin shrine marks the spot where Roman soldiers nailed Jesus’ hands and feet to the cross. On Golgotha Calvary, a Greek Orthodox altar marks the Twelfth Station where Jesus died on the Cross. The Thirteenth Station of the Cross, where Jesus was taken down from the Cross and given to the Virgin Mary, is marked by a Franciscan altar. The Fourteenth and final Station of the Cross is the Tomb of Jesus, the site of his burial and resurrection.

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