The Stations of the Cross tour is not just a hike through the charming alleys paved with ancient monolithic stones angling and curving through renowned historical sites; but rather a spiritual journey embodied in the process of actually metaphorically tracing Jesus’ final physical journey in this material world.
Christian pilgrims from the four corners of the earth and from all walks of life congregate along the Via Dolorosa and trace this historical and tragic journey. Some believers might perceive this event in a positive light since Jesus’ sufferings atone for their sins, but this doctrine, albeit essential to Christian dogma, is still perceived as tragic by most who know the story.
The Via Dolorosa, also known as the” way of grief” or “the way of suffering”, spans across two sections of the Old City of Jerusalem. This infamous and circuitous route commences at the Antonia Fortress. This road is a modern remnant of a standard Roman-engineered East-West Route built by Hadrian. The final stop is obviously the Church of the Hoy Sepulchre. Let’s commence our exploration of this ancient way.
Pilgrims have traversed this path since Byzantine times although the original way was quite different than the modern version, and it went through many iterations until evolving into the recent edition extant today. It is advisable to start this tour as early in the morning as possible in order to avoid the crowds that oftentimes accrue as the day progresses, and the group tour busses arrive.
Pilgrims and tourists interested in this attraction begin the traditional route at the Lion’s Gate adjacent the Umariya Elementary School and the Antonia Fortress mentioned above. Here you will find the Roman Numeral “I” on a metal, disc-like plaque. These numerical plates mark each station along the way.
The first and second stations commemorate Jesus’ confrontation with Pontius Pilate. Here you can explore a 19th century Roman Catholic Church and the Ecce Homo Convent and “triple” arch structure that spans above the way.
The Third stop is the first station where Christ purportedly fell according to tradition, and this also occurred at the 7th and 9th stations as well. Here the directions are a little tricky as you search out the Polish Catholic Church that marks this spot.
The fourth station is the home of the Armenian Orthodox Oratory and the traditional spot where Jesus met his mother for a final farewell before the crucifixion.
At station five, you will need to make one of your most circuitous diversions, and this is where traditionally, Simon of Cyrene, relieved Jesus and carried the cross for a bit.
Station six is replete with intrigue. This is the point where Veronica wiped the face of Jesus creating the controversial Veil of Veronica where the veil was reportedly imprinted with an actual facial image.
The Seventh Station is marked by a vintage red and black double door and is the second stop where Jesus stumbled and fell. It is adjacent to the Franciscan Chapel.
Eight is the place where Jesus traditionally gave a sermon to a group of pious women and today you will find the religious landmark known as the Greek Orthodox Monastery of St. Charalampus there.
The ninth stop is almost hidden and oftentimes missed because it is located at the entrance to the Church of the Holy Sepulchre complex. This is where Jesus stumbled and fell for the third and final time.
The tenth station actually encompasses the general venue for the remainder of the stations: ten-fourteen. Number ten is where Jesus was stripped of his garments, while eleven is the locus for the Crucifixion proper – this is the Rock of the Calvary where the cross traditionally was believed to have stood.
The twelfth station is where Jesus dies on the cross, and then the thirteenth is where the body was removed from the cross, and then we move to the fourteenth and final station,
This final station is the aedicule, the tomb of Christ. This diaphanous monument contains a fragment of the stone believed to have been used to seal the tomb in one room, and the second chamber is considered to be the actual tomb itself.
Re-enactments take place regularly and vary in kind and quality ranging the highly accurate with period costumes and props to more informal enactments. Each Friday there is a Roman Catholic procession that walks the entire Via Dolorosa route.
If you are a Christian pilgrim or even just a curious tourist from any denomination, don’t miss this deeply moving historical and religious saga. Don’t hesitate to contact Mazada Tours for all of your Travel needs. We are here to serve you.
By Brent J. Mitchell