For Christians, following the steps path of Christ on earth, is an unforgettable spiritual Experience.
This Processional route, located in the Old City of Jerusalem, is the same path our Lord Jesus Christ walked on the way to his Crucifixion.
Thus, the Via Dolorosa earned its name, which literally means “the way of grief”.
This Winding road begins in the Antonia Fortress, west to the Church of the Holy Sepulchre and distance over 600 meters.
The Via Dolorosa is also a very important pilgrimage site and thousands of pilgrims and tourists visit the site over the year.
Today, the Via Dolorosa in Jerusalem is marked by 14 stations better known to us as the Stations of the Cross.
The Remaining five Stations of the Cross are actually located inside the Church of the Holy Sepulchre.
Jesus came from the sea of Galilee walking all the way on the west bank of the Jordan river passing through Jericho, Bethany and mount of olives until he reached Jerusalem.
There, he entered the Golden gate riding a donkey to fulfill a prophecy mentioned in the Old Testament by the Hebrew Prophet Zechariah(Zechariah 9:9).
According to the scriptures, it was believed that the Messiah will enter Jerusalem from the gate of mercy (the east/golden gate) and after he enters, the gate will be closed until the end of days.
The gate is indeed closed until this very day(Ezekiel 44:1-3).
Jesus spent a few days in Jerusalem and then celebrated Passover with his disciples through what we call “The Last Supper” in the last supper room in Mount Zion. He then walked down to the Garden of Gethsemane in the mount of olives passing through the Kedron valley, where he prayed for the last time before he was arrested(John 18:1).
Jesus was then taken to Caiaphas house where he was condemned by the Sanhedrins and imprisoned there at the dungeon.
In the early morning, he was taken to Antonia’s fortress where he was condemned again by the Roman Procurator Pontius Pilate to be crucified.
As we mentioned before, the Via Dolorosa is the same road Jesus was forced to walk carrying his cross through nine stations, all the way to the “Golgotha” – where he was crucified. We will stop at those stations one by one.
- First station: where Jesus was condemned by Pontius Pilatus. In order to remain a friend of Caesar, Pilatus delivers Jesus into the hands of His enemies. Now it is a Muslim school called: Al Omariya.
- Second Station: where Jesus was whipped, crowned with thorns and forced to carry the cross on which he will die. Now it is called the flagellation church.
- Third Station: where Jesus fell down for the first time. The weight is unbearable. Jesus falls under it. He lays on the ground and knows the experience of weakness beneath unfair burdens.
- Forth Station: Jesus’ path takes him to a powerful source of his strength to continue. He meets Mary. they look into each other’s eyes. She blesses his mission. A very sad moment for a mother to see her son walking to his death.
- Fifth Station: Where Simon of Cyrene, the man compelled by the Romans to carry the cross of Jesus of Nazareth as Jesus was taken to his crucifixion. “And as they came out, they found a man of Cyrene, Simon by name: him they compelled to bear his cross.”
- Sixth Station: According to Church tradition, Veronica was moved with sympathy when she saw Jesus carrying his cross to Golgotha and gave him her veil to wipe his forehead. Jesus accepted the offering, held it to his face, and then handed it back to her—the image of his face miraculously impressed upon it. This piece of cloth became known as the Veil of Veronica.
- Seventh Station: Jesus fell down for the second time before he was kicked outside the city to be crucified at a place called Golgotha.
- Eighth Station: Jesus meets the women of Jerusalem who weep for him and tells them: “Daughters of Jerusalem, do not weep for me, but weep for yourselves and for your children”.
- Ninth Station: Jesus fell down for the third time.
- Tenth Station: Jesus was stripped of his garments by the Roman soldiers and they divided his garments among them by casting lots;
- Eleventh Station: Stripped of His garments, Jesus is violently thrown down on the Cross. His hands and His feet are nailed to the cross in the cruelest way.
- Twelfth Station: Jesus, crucified, hangs on the Cross for three endless hours. Between two criminals.
- Thirteenth Station: Jesus is Taken Down from the Cross and placed in his mother’s bosom.
- Fourteenth Station: Jesus body is taken to his grave. The grave was offered by Joseph of Aramathea since there was no time to look for a proper burial place. And after three days he resurrected to Heaven.