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Via Dolorosa

VIA DOLOROSA. The Via Dolorosa or “Way of Sorrows” is the traditional route followed by Jesus from the Praetorium or Judgment Hall to Golgotha, the place of crucifixion. The exact route followed by Jesus after His condemnation to death by Pilate (Matt 27:26; Mark 15:15; Luke 23:25; John 19:16) depends upon the location of Pilate’s Judgment Hall (the Praetorium) and Golgotha (Calvary). The Praetorium has been placed by some at the Palace of Herod near the Jaffa Gate (e.g., P. Benoit, RB 59 [1952], p. 531-550) and by others at the Castle of Antonia at the NW corner of the Temple area (e.g., L. H. Vincent, RB 59 [1952], 513-530). Likewise, the location of Golgotha is disputed—Church of the Holy Sepulchre or Gordon’s Calvary. The traditional route followed by many pilgrims today begins near the so-called Ecce Homo arch in the vicinity of the Convent of the Sisters of Zion in modern Jerusalem. The present streets are many ft. above the streets of 1st-cent. Jerusalem and the presentday Ecce Homo arch dates from a time after Christ. However, excavations in the property of the Sisters of Zion have uncovered remains that convincingly appear to be the Castle of Antonia. The Via Dolorosa follows a westerly direction to the Church of the Holy Sepulchre. On the route there are fourteen stations representing various scenes, some related in the gospels and others preserved in tradition, which occurred as Jesus made that tragic journey. These fourteen stations are: (1) Jesus is condemned to death; (2) Jesus receives the cross; (3) Jesus falls the first time; (4) Jesus meets His afflicted mother; (5) Simon of Cyrene helps Jesus to carry His cross; (6) Veronica wipes the face of Jesus; (7) Jesus falls the second time; (8) Jesus speaks to the daughters of Jerusalem; (9) Jesus falls the third time; (10) Jesus is stripped of His garments; (11) Jesus is nailed to the cross; (12) Jesus dies on the cross; (13) the body of Jesus is taken down from the cross; (14) Jesus laid in the sepulchre.

Although the authenticity of the Via Dolorosa cannot be firmly established (extensive investigation is made almost impossible by the structures of the modern city), nevertheless the events of that fateful Good Friday become more vivid when contemplated in the context of the old city of Jerusalem.