Home / News & Events


The Way of the Cross


Containing St. Faustina's Way of the Cross and the Traditional... Read more


$6.95


Buy Now

Photo: Melanie Williams

Pilgrims praying the Stations of the Cross along the Via Dolorosa in Jerusalem.

A Holy Land Pilgrimage: Pt. 8 — Via Dolorosa

Print this story

Share on Facebook

Share on Twitter

Comments

[+] Enlarge Image

The beginning of the Via Dolorosa, where Jesus was condemned to death by Pontius Pilate.

[+] Enlarge Image

The "Ecce Homo" Arch, where Pontius Pilate proclaimed, "Behold the Man!" and sentenced Jesus to death.

[+] Enlarge Image

The street sign for the Via Dolorosa.

[+] Enlarge Image

The third station, Jesus falls for the first time.

[+] Enlarge Image

The fourth station, Jesus meets His mother.

[+] Enlarge Image

The Via Dolorosa turns uphill between the fifth and sixth station.

[+] Enlarge Image

The fifth station, Simon of Cyrene helps Jesus carry His Cross.

[+] Enlarge Image

The sixth station, Veronica wipes the face of Jesus.

[+] Enlarge Image

The seventh station, Jesus falls a second time.

[+] Enlarge Image

The eighth station, Jesus meets the women of Jerusalem.

[+] Enlarge Image

The ninth station, Jesus falls a third time. This is the last station before the Church of the Holy Sepulchre.

[+] Enlarge Image

The Sanctuary of the Condemnation nearby the first station.

[+] Enlarge Image

The Sanctuary of the Flagellation, where Jesus was scourged.

[+] Enlarge Image

The Church of the Holy Sepulchre.

By Melanie Williams (Mar 27, 2018)
From Oct. 26 - Nov. 5, 2017, staff writer Melanie Williams went on a pilgrimage to the Holy Land. Having walked where Jesus walked, prayed where He prayed, and experienced the current Middle Eastern cultural and political climate, she would like to share some of her pilgrimage and journey with you. Today, in the final part of an nine-part weekly series journey with her along the Via Dolorosa to Calvary.

We have journeyed throughout Galilee and the public ministry of Jesus. We have visited Nazareth and the place of the Annunciation and home of the Holy Family. We have seen Jesus' birthplace in Bethlehem, and we have visited the places of His last week on earth. As we enter into this Holy Week, I invite you to walk with me along the Way of the Cross in Jerusalem — the Via Dolorosa.

Why is praying the Stations of the Cross so important? Well, Jesus specifically asked St. Faustina that when the clock strikes three, she immerse herself completely in His mercy and "try your best to make the Stations of the Cross in this hour, provided that your duties permit it" (Diary of St. Maria Faustina Kowalska, 1572). He also said, "There is more merit to one hour of meditation on My sorrowful Passion than there is to a whole year of flagellation that draws blood; the contemplation of My painful wounds is of great profit to you, and it brings Me great joy" (Diary, 369). In many parishes throughout the world, it is a tradition to pray the Stations of the Cross on Fridays during Lent to help us enter more deeply into the Passion of our Lord in preparation for the Paschal Triduum.

We ended last week with Jesus in the cistern overnight from Holy Thursday to Good Friday. Let me recap what happened on Holy Thursday night.

Jesus was chained and brought back through the Kidron Valley to Caiaphas' house, who was high priest that year. Jesus was questioned. Innocent, He remained silent.

Caiaphas said, "I order you to tell us under oath before the living God whether you are the Messiah, the Son of God" (Mt 26:63). Jesus said, "You have said so. But I tell you: From now on you will see 'the Son of Man seated at the right hand of the Power' and 'coming on the clouds of heaven'" (26:64). Caiaphas tore his garments and cried, "He has blasphemed!" (26:65). They spat on Jesus' face and hit him, giving Him a contusion to his face and eye discernible to this day on the Shroud of Turin.

Meanwhile, outside, Peter had followed them but remained in the courtyard. He denied His Lord three times.

Jesus was lowered down by chains around His wrists into a cistern, fulfilling the prophecy of Psalm 88, "like the slain who lie in the grave. You remember them no more; they are cut off from your influence. You plunge me into the bottom of the pit, into the darkness of the abyss" (6-7). He was left there overnight, in the dark, in the pit. The only opening was a small hole at the top through which He was lowered.

In the morning, He was taken out of the cistern. The chief priests took Him to Pilate, the governor. Pilate had residence in the Antonio fortress on the corner of the Temple — a heavy sign of Roman occupation to the Jews.

The Via Dolorosa in Jerusalem begins here. We chose to pray the Stations in the early hours of the morning, before the noise and hustle and bustle of the day began in the narrow streets of the Old City.

We found the first plaque marking the first station. We recalled what took place.

Pilate questioned Jesus and found him not guilty of what the Jews accused him of before Pilate: opposing the payment of taxes to Caesar and claiming himself to be king (see Lk 23:2). He sent Jesus to Herod, since he was a Galilean and Herod was in Jerusalem to oversee the more than 3 million Jews who had come to the city for Passover. Herod mocked Him, covered Him in a robe, and sent Him back to Pilate. Like a sheep between handlers, he was passed back and forth.

Pilate had Him scourged. Today this is commemorated by the Sanctuary of the Flagellation nearby this first plaque. Jesus was crowned with thorns. They brought Jesus out to the people: "Behold the man!" (Jn 19:5). Yet the chief priests and the scribes called for more. They cried for a murderer and a revolutionary, Barabbas, to be released, as was the tradition at Passover, and for Jesus to be crucified. To protect the city from a revolt, which would cause trouble for himself with Caesar, Pilate handed Jesus over to be crucified. Today commemorated by the Sanctuary of the Condemnation right next to the place of the flagellation.

We walked onward a few meters to the second station. Jesus takes up His cross. In Jesus' time, this was the most brutal instrument of torture, the ultimate means of ridicule and humiliation. Yet He willingly embraced it with love and carried it through the streets of Jerusalem towards the outer walls of the city.

In His day, the streets were packed with people for the Passover. They must have been pressing in on every side of Him — those who saw Jesus in His ministry, those for whom He performed miracles, those who never believed in Him. Most of the crowd was mocking and spitting upon Him, calling for His death. Only a handful of women, His mother, and John, followed. Under the weight of the Cross He fell on the hard stone pavement. The third station. Today this site is in the custody of the Armenian Catholic Church.

A stone's throw away is the plaque marking the fourth station — Jesus meets His mother. Tradition holds that Mary must have made her way through the crowd to meet her Son face to face along the road. The gaze between them was one of pure love. Like many times before, Mary kept all these things in her heart, and she allowed her Son to continue on the work of the Father He had set out to accomplish.

We continued onward just as Jesus had to. I pondered what it must have been like for Jesus and Mary to part from each other's embrace and continue along this path of suffering.

We reached the fifth station and recalled that a Jew in the city for the Passover, Simon of Cyrene, was pulled in to help Jesus carry His Cross. He probably did not want to help Jesus carry His cross at first. He was a Jew, and this would make him unclean, but he did anyway.

From here, the Way of the Cross turns uphill on a narrow road. At the top of the hill is the sixth station and the Church of the Holy Face. Here a woman came up to Jesus with her veil to wipe His face, full of blood and sweat. We do not know her name, but the "true image" left on her veil, vera icona, has formed into the name we have given her: St. Veronica.

At this point He was nearing what was then the city gate. They would be executing Jesus just outside the city walls. He fell a second time on the stone pavement, the weight of the Cross crushing down upon Him and dirt grinding into His open wounds from the scourging. The seventh station.

As Jesus passed through the city gate, he was met by the women who were weeping. These women were professional mourners, still existent in the Middle East today. They would stand outside the city walls awaiting a funeral procession, and families would pay them to mourn for their dead. Jesus said, "Daughters of Jerusalem, do not weep for me; weep instead for yourselves and for your children" (Lk 23:28). The eighth station.

In the time of Jesus, outside the city of Jerusalem there was a limestone quarry. By law, to this day, every building in Jerusalem must be covered in limestone, so that the whole city may be dazzling white. When Jesus was being executed, a section of the limestone in this quarry was oxidizing and ironizing. It was turning red, and if it was cut for stones, it would turn to powder. Since they couldn't use the stone for building, it became a place for executions, for crucifixions. It was known as the place of the skull, Golgatha (see Mt 27:33). As Jesus approached it, he fell a third time. The ninth station.

Here the Stations of the Cross end on the streets of Jerusalem and you enter the Church of the Holy Sepulcher for Stations 10 through 15.

I invite you to meditate on these stations of the Cross as we prepare for the most Holy time of our year — the Paschal Triduum. On Good Friday, March 30, I will share with you my experience in the Church of the Holy Sepulcher for stations 10 through 15 — from Calvary to the tomb.

Print this story

Share on Facebook

Share on Twitter

Comments

Be a part of the discussion. Add a comment now!

KD - Mar 29, 2018

Hi Melanie, I am wondering which tour company you used to take this trip?