Via Dolorosa or The Way of the Cross

The Via Dolorosa is Christendom's most sacred route. This is where Jesus bore his cross from Pilate's Judgment Hall to the Calvary Hill or Golgotha. There are 14 Stations of the Cross along the narrow cobbled winding alley ways of the Old City of Jerusalem and ends inside the Church of the Holy Sepulchre where you can find five more stations. The stations are either chapels, churches, convents and even stones or pillars!

If your heart is set on walking the same path that Jesus did on his last days, I suggest that you download the Audio Tours of Jerusalem app. It has a very good Via Dolorosa guide. If you want to reflect, you can also download some devotions online of the Way of the Cross or if you are a devout Catholic, bring your rosary and go through the different mysteries. Bring also a hat and water as well and use comfortable walking shoes.

The entire route takes five hours and with many stops to learn and explore. So start out early and enjoy!

We start our walk at the Lions Gate. Do you know that there are many lions in Jerusalem? And you can do an entire Lions of Jerusalem tour using the Audio Tours of Jerusalem app? Christians also call this St.Stephens gate.

We will then pass by St. Anne's Church and the Pools of Bethesda.You also need to pay to see the inside of this church, its beautiful garden, and the ruins.

According to the Catholic tradition, the Virgin Mary was born here, in the home of Anna and Joachim.

Next is the Pool of Bethesda, where Jesus cured a lame man.

First Station: Jesus is Condemned to Death

This is the Roman court where Jesus was judged and condemned to death by Pontius Pilate. Known as the Praetorium, this site was within the grounds of the Antonia Castle. Today, the site has been turned into the Al-Omariya school.
Matt. 27:1-2

Second Station: Jesus Takes up the Cross

The Chapel of the Flagellation is where Jesus was beaten by the Roman soldiers and was crowned with thorns and dressed in purple garments.

The Chapel of Condemnation is where Jesus was scourged and bound to the cross.
John 19:1
John 19:16

Third Station: Jesus Falls for the First Time

The Armenian Catholic Church is where Jesus fell for the first time.

Fourth Station: Jesus Meets His Mother

Above the entrance of the Armenian Catholic Chapel near the Church of Our Lady of the Spasm you can find a relief that commemorates the meeting place of Jesus and his mother.

Fifth Station: Simon of Cyrene Helps Jesus to Carry the Cross

This station is marked by a Franciscans Chapel called Simon of Cyrene. Simon was the man who helped Jesus carry his cross.

You'll notice that next to the entrance is a stone with a hand indention. This is said to be where Jesus laid his hand as he walked through the street on his way to Golgotha.

Luke 23:26

Sixth Station: Veronica Wipes the Face of Jesus

St. Veronica's Chapel is said to be the home of Veronica, the woman who handed Jesus a veil to wipe his blood and sweat.

Seventh Station: Jesus falls for the Second Time

Known as the Justice Gate, this is where indictments of those condemned to death were published during the Roman times. Jesus passed through this gate on his way to Golgotha. This is also where he fell for the second time. There is a Roman Pillar inside this Franciscan chapel to mark this event. However, the chapel only opens at 2pm.

Eight Station: Jesus Consoles the Crying Women of Jerusalem

Turn right on a side street and you will spot a stone with a Latin cross on the wall of the Greek Orthodox monastery of St. Charalampos. Inscribed in it are Latin words which says, "Jesus Christ conquers."

Go back to the alleyway and head on straight.

Luke 23:28-29

Ninth Station: Jesus Falls for the Third Time

Continuing on, you would need to turn right and climb the stairs towards the Coptic Church of Saint Anthony. A column is built here to mark where Jesus fell for the third time.

Walking ahead on your right is the St. Helen Coptic Orthodox Church where there is a cistern. You would need to pay a few shekels to go down and see the cistern. The water looks polluted but there are people scooping water from it and sprinkling it on themselves.

Walk ahead and into the bigger sanctuary and you can find really cheap souvenirs inside the Coptic Church. These are sold by the priests!

To get to the Chapel of the Division of Garments, you would need to go through an Ethiopian Chruch.

Tenth Station: Jesus is Stripped of His Garments

The Chapel of the Division of Garments is on top of the stairs. This is where Jesus garments were shared after the crucifixion.
John 19:23-24

I saw some bread perched on the pillars. In this part of the world, it is taboo to throw bread. They are usually left outside the house to be eaten by stray animals.

Eleventh Station: Jesus is Nailed to the Cross

This station is located inside the Church of the Holy Sepulcher. This is where Jesus was nailed to the cross. Take a closer look at the mosaic on the ceiling and you will understand more of the event that happened that day. Be ready to fall in line.

John 19:17-18

Twelfth Station: Crucifixion and Death

Still inside the Church of the Holy Sepulcher, this is an altar with a silver disk under it. The indention in the middle of the silver disk marks where Jesus cross was located. On either sides are black marble plates that marks the locations of the robbers crosses.

Mark 15:34
Mark 15:37

Thirteenth Station: Jesus is Taken Down from the Cross

This station is marked by an altar dedicated to Mary, known as Our Lady of Sorrows. Alongside this is a statue of the Madonna. This is where Jesus body was taken down and where his body was laid down on the stone f the Anointment, where his body was anointed with a mixture of myrrh and oil. No wonder a wonderful smell permeates this space.
John 19:25

Pilgrims would lay down their souvenirs here.

Fourteenth Station: Jesus Laid in the Tomb

Prepare to fall in a long line here. The tomb of Jesus was in the Center of the Holy Sepulcher. It is divided in two-the ante-room known as Chapel of the Angel, and the inner room where the tomb itself is located. There are 43 lamps that burn day and night in the burial chamber. If you come in early, you can even see the changing of the oils of these lamps. The tomb is covered with a marble slab, on top of which are three reliefs illustrating the resurrection of Jesus, three days after his death.
A post shared by Ge Ann (@gedaleann) on

Jesus Christ has died, he has risen, and he will come again!

A tip for Catholics, you can join the Franciscans (the custodians of the Holy Places) at the Umariyya School near the Lion's Gate at 4pm (or 3pm on winter) every Friday for a Rosary Walk of the Via Dolorosa. What's interesting about this rocession are the Muslim escorts in Ottoman uniform!

It's easy to get lost in the Via Dolorosa so you can also get a map at the Christian Information Center at the Jaffa Gate to help you find your way.


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