Via Dolorosa and Stations of the Cross

As they led him 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.

A large number of people followed him, including women who mourned and wailed for him. (Luke 23:26-27)

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The Via Dolorosa means “Way of Grief” in Latin. It is the presumed path Christ walked to his crucifixion. There are 14 “stations” which commemorate 14 different events that took place as Jesus walked carrying his cross all the way to Golgotha. The Church of the Holy Sepulcher now sits where Golgotha is thought to have been. There are 8 stations along the road and 6 additional ones within the complex of the Church of the Holy Sepulcher.

The Via Dolorosa begins near the spot where Christ was tried, close to the Lion’s Gate in the Muslim Quarter. It ends on the east side in the Christian Quarter. There is a procession, lead by the Franciscans, every Friday at 3pm along the Via Dolorosa beginning at the first station and ending at the Church of the Holy Sepulcher.


Station #1: Jesus Condemned to Death

Station #1 is on the north-west corner of the Temple Mount. It sits across the street from the Franciscan Convent of the Flagellation. It is also the present position of the Al-Omariya School. During the Roman times this site was the seat of Pontius Pilate, in the Antonia fortress, and the hall of judgment, as mentioned in John 18-28.

Station #2: Jesus Receives His Cross

The second station of the Via Dolorosa is near the Convent of the Flagellation. It commemorates Christ getting his cross to carry to Golgotha. This is recorded in John 19. Pilate wrote a title and placed it on the cross, as well.

Station #3: Jesus Falls the First Time Under His Cross

Station #3 is on the corner of Via Dolorosa and El Wad (Haggai) street. From here the Via Dolorosa makes a sharp turn to the south east, following the west side of the Temple Mount. It was at this station Christ fell down for the first time under the tremendous weight of the cross he was carrying. A stone tablet depicts Jesus fallen on the ground underneath a cross.

There is a Polish church at this station. The Austro-Hungarian hospice, which is now a hospital, is also near this location. There is a short section of road dating back to the Byzantine era in this section of the Via Dolorosa. It once connected the Damascus gate to the Dung gate. Even though the Byzantine period was several hundred years after the Roman period, the stone road still followed the same route as the original path walked by Jesus.

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Station #4: Jesus Meets Mary His Mother

Station #4 is very close to the third station, just a little farther south on El-Wad street. This site commemorates when Jesus met his mother Mary, according to Christian tradition. An Armenian church, Armenian Church of Our Lady of the Spasm, is just behind the walls of this site.

Station #5: Simon Helps Jesus to Carry His Cross

The next station is at the junction of Via Dolorosa and El-Wad road. At this site sits a small Franciscan church dedicated to Simon the Cyrenian who assisted Christ with the cross. This is mentioned in Luke 23. There is a small house that was built in 1229 and was the Franciscans’ first presence in Jerusalem. There is an old stone to the right thought to have the imprint of Jesus’ hand on it.

Station #6:  Veronica Wipes the Face of Jesus

Station #6 is up the hill. It is dedicated to a woman who wiped the face of Christ. This tradition is loosely based on the passage from Luke 23 that mentions women lamenting Christ’s agony. According to Christian tradition, her name is thought to be Veronica, which may have been a combination of the Latin words “Vera” and “Icon,” which would mean “true image,” for the replica of Jesus face as seen on her handkerchief.

Station #7: Jesus Falls the Second Time

This site is unassuming and merely commemorates Christ again stumbling along his agonizing trek to his crucifixion at Golgotha.

Station #8: Jesus Speaks to the Women of Jerusalem

This station is located closest to the Church of the Holy Sepulcher and is dedicated to the Greek Orthodox Saint Charalampos. The Greek Orthodox monastery is located behind the wall at this station. This site is based on the section in Luck 23 when Christ addresses the “daughters of Jerusalem.”

Station #9: Jesus Fall the Third Time

This station commemorates Christ again falling under the agony of the cross and the length of his humiliating walk.

Station #10: Jesus is Stripped of His Garments

The tenth station is located at the entrance of the Church of the Holy Sepulcher in a room called the Chapel of the Franks. According to Mark 15, soldiers divided Christ’s clothing between them by casting lots as he died.

Stations 11-14 are located in the actual Church of the Holy Sepulcher

Station #11: Jesus is Nailed to the Cross

This station is upstairs at the Latin Calvary, just inside the entrance

Station #12: Jesus Dies on the Cross

The Rock of Golgotha, in the Greek Orthodox Calvary commemorates the moment when Christ breathed his last breath, as he hung upon the cross.

Station #13: Jesus is Taken Down from the Cross

There is a statue, of Our Lady of Sorrows, next to the Lain Calvary commemorating the moment Christ’s body was removed from the cross of his crucifixion.

Station #14: Jesus is Laid in the Tomb

In the edicule on the main floor; there is a tiny Chapel of the Holy Sepulcher. This small, unassuming spot is the place commemorating the placement of Christ’s body into a borrowed tomb.

Thus, Christian pilgrims from all over the world walk in the weekly processional to remember the last steps of their beloved Jesus Christ.


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