Via Dolorosa – Last Station
When Jesus walked to Golgotha from the place where Pontius Pilate sentenced him, he used the road Via Dolorosa in the Old City of Jerusalem.
Via Dolorosa means “way of sorrows.” Today, the street is filled with the noises of venders trying to get your attention and selling their products. On each side sit old stone buildings. Instead of trees, stone steps surround the city. What may surprise visitors is the knowledge that these stone structures are not new.
In fact, these are exactly what Jesus would have seen on that Friday. Since it was Passover week, Jerusalem was filled with Pilgrims. Many would’ve looked away, fearful of the Romans. They had good reason to be – the Romans forced Simon of Cyrene to carry the cross.
For more than 1,000 years, Christians coming to the Holy city have walked the last path of Jesus.
Along Via Dolorosa are the fourteen Stations of the Cross.
The first station –
is the Praetorium, where Pontius Pilate condemned Jesus and he took up the cross (Mark 15:15). A convent now sits in this station, presiding over a small part of the fortress.
About 20 feet below the present road, the Stations of the Cross are marked modestly. The Jerusalem Municipality repaved the Via Dolorosa to help show off the sacred sites.
The third Station –
where Jesus fell with the cross, is just past the Praetorium. Station four represents where Simon took up the cross. Each station has a story: One marks the spot where Jesus met Mary, a noblewoman of Jerusalem who wiped sweat from Jesus’s brow.
Every Friday afternoon, at the time Jesus died, a procession marches through the fourteen stations. It’s unlikely; however, that Jesus followed this exact route when he took it on his way to Calvary. The Via Dolorosa you’ll find today started with pious tradition.
Nine of the 14 stations were declared based on references made in the Gospel. The other stations, which mark Jesus falling, meeting with his mother Mary and Veronica wiping his face, mark traditional spots.
In the Christian Information Centre, you’ll find a map to help you navigate the areas.
The Scriptures reference several of the fourteen stations –
- 26 And as they led him away, they seized one Simon of Cyrene, who was coming in from the country, and laid on him the cross, to carry it behind Jesus.
- 27 And there followed him a great multitude of the people, and of women who bewailed and lamented him.
- 28 But Jesus turning to them said, “Daughters of Jerusalem, do not weep for me, but weep for yourselves and for your children.
- 29 For behold, the days are coming when they will say, ‘Blessed are the barren, and the wombs that never bore, and the breasts that never gave suck!’
- 30 Then they will begin to say to the mountains, ‘Fall on us’; and to the hills, ‘Cover us.’
- 31 For if they do this when the wood is green, what will happen when it is dry?”
- 32 Two others also, who were criminals, were led away to be put to death with him.
- 33 And when they came to the place which is called The Skull, there they crucified him, and the criminals, one on the right and one on the left.
now that you know a bit more about the Via Dolorosa, we can go to the old city, the City of David.