A trip to the Holy Land to walk Jerusalem’s Via Dolorosa seemed like a place I wanted to go during Lent so I did. For those not familiar, the Via Dolorosa (or the “Way of Grief”) is the Stations of the Cross where they actually happened. If your faith includes Jesus, anything that brings us closer to God is a good thing, and walking the Via Dolorosa certainly did. If your faith does not include Jesus, perhaps consider this post to show a historic perspective. The walk up the Via Dolorosa is steeper than I pictured. Here are some pictures from each station.
Station 1 and Station 2: Jesus is condemned to death and Jesus carries His cross
Getting to Station 1 and 2, which is by the Temple Mount, was a little dicey and crowded, so I do not really have presentable photos of these two stations. Instead I will share a few representative pictures (above) to get started: Biblical quote in the garden of Gethsemane; me in an Old City Jerusalem courtyard perhaps typical of where Pilate questioned Jesus; view of Jerusalem from the East.
Station 3: Jesus falls the first time
Station 4: Jesus meets his mother
Station 5: Simon of Cyrene helps Jesus to carry his cross
Station 6: Veronica wipes the face of Jesus
The photos below show the peaceful Chapel and its stone alter.
We had a wonderful conversation with a Little Sister of Jesus nun who maintains this Station (and had a beautiful gift shop where the nuns make everything by hand – if you go, please support these nuns by buying from their gift shop). One question we asked the Sister was, “How do you know these are the right locations for the stations?” She pointed out that sites were memorialized by the Roman emperor Constantine around 300 years after the crucifixion. Knowing we were from the United States, she asked how we knew that where George Washington wintered over was the right location (Valley Forge). She pointed out it our US History was more than 200 year old information, so there was a very good chance Constantine knew where the actual sites were. Her point was well-made.
The Sister appreciated our interest and curiosity and invited us to go below the chapel to the old chapel and crypt underground. That was special.
Station 7: Jesus falls the second time
Station 7 has a simple entrance off of a busy street in the Old City.
Station 8: Jesus meets the women of Jerusalem
Station 9: Jesus falls the third time
Stations 10 – 14 are located inside the Church of the Holy Sepulcher.
Station 10: Jesus’s clothes stripped off
Station 11: Jesus is nailed to the cross
Station 12: Jesus dies on the cross
The pictures above are where the crucifixion cross was found. The pictures below are the main alter (left) and the Stabat Mater alter (right).
Station 13: The body of Jesus is taken down from the cross
Station 14: Jesus is laid in the tomb
Obviously the vestibule and tomb did not look like this in the time of Jesus. Far behind the Aedicule is a burial site that looks as it probably did back then. The photo below is taken from the vestibule, and the bodies would have been buried in the tombs (two of them showing). Once a body was inside, a large rock would have closed the tomb.
I am waiting to go inside the tomb of Jesus.
To those who of you who are reading and believe, please always keep in mind the following:
On the third day he rose again
in fulfillment of the Scriptures;
* * *
If you are interested in this post, I encourage you to go to the Holy Land at some point in your life. If traveling to the Holy Land seems unattainable consider:
- A number of cities in North America have direct flights to Tel Aviv for as low as 800 USD round trip (and sometimes less)
- Reasonably priced accommodations and food are available near or in Old City Jerusalem
- Think you can’t afford it? Cut the cable cord and within 2 years you easily pay for your trip (not to mention have more time for reading, hobbies, and exercise). I believe that walking the Via Dolorosa will say with you longer than anything on cable TV will
- I felt much safer in Jerusalem than in many other cities of the world
- The only really hard part about travelling to the Holy Land is leaving