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The meaning of the Way of the Cross

The Stations of the Cross in Jerusalem
The Way of the Cross is not a work of erudition. It is essentially a devotional exercise, a means which men and women can use to make contact with God, to adore Him, to thank Him, to increase their love for Him. Devotion to the sufferings of Christ, is particularly recommended for all who wish to live "upon the model of that charity which Christ showed to us when he gave himself up on our behalf" (Eph 6,2).

Because the Passion was accomplished in a specific place, it is obviously important to know its geographical and physical layout. This includes the many changes the Holy Land has undergone since Gospel times, together with the buildings and churches that have risen over the actual spots, all of which could add to the confusion experienced by certain pilgrims.

The road followed by Jesus on the day of his death has not escaped the vicissitudes of history; so we will not yield to the temptation of making stones the supreme arbiter in this matter. After all, it is by following the Way of the Cross that pilgrims have understood what the carrying of the cross was really like, through streets resembling those where crowds of people, often impassible, sometimes curious, still gather in front of the shops. (While the closing of the Moslem shops may be a help to piety, it has taken from the Friday procession the teeming crowds which were customary before 1967).

Finally, what really matters is to follow Christ on the Way of the Cross of his Passion, as humble companions.

The Stations

"Via Dolorosa" or "Via Crucis" designates a stretch of road between the Antonia fortress and Golgotha, along which Jesus Christ walked bowed under the weight of the Cross. The name dates from the sixteenth century, although the custom of retracing Jesus' steps to Golgotha began in the early centuries of Christianity. According to the most common tradition the Antonia fortress and the Praetorium nearby were the sites where Jesus was brought before Pilate. The fortress, which stood near the north-west corner of the Jewish Temple, was the starting point for Jesus' painful walk toward Calvary, which at that time was outside the city walls.

The Stations X through XIV are located inside the Church of the Holy Sepulchre.

Every Friday afternoon, the Franciscans, who have been the Custodians of the Holy Places since the thirteenth century, lead a pious procession winding through the streets of the Old City of Jerusalem folowing in the footsteps of the suffering Christ.

Sites of events preceeding the "First Way of the Cross"

The Last Supper
The Garden of Gethsemane - Mount of Olives - Part I
The Garden of Gethsemane - Mount of Olives - Part II
The Holy Prison



Preliminary Stations and reflections

Map of Via Dolorosa (Via Crucis) - small (19KB) - large (172KB)

Background - the mood of a city
The First Preliminary Station - Jesus goes down to Gethsemane
The Second Preliminary Station - Jesus is led to Caiaphas
The Third Preliminary Station - Jesus in front of Pilate

The Stations and reflections

The First Station - HERE Jesus is sentenced to death
The Second Station - HERE Jesus is given the Cross
The Third Station - HERE Jesus falls for the first time
The Fourth Station - HERE Jesus meets His Mother
The Fifth Station - HERE Simon the Cyrenian helps carry the Cross
The Sixth Station - HERE Veronica wipes Jesus' face
The Seventh Station - HERE Jesus falls for the second time
The Eighth Station - HERE Jesus talks to the women of Jerusalem
The Ninth Station - HERE Jesus falls for the third time

The Holy Sepulchre - Stations 10 through 14

The Church of the Holy Sepulchre - Information
The Tenth Station - HERE Jesus is stripped of His garments
The Eleventh Station - HERE Jesus is nailed to the Cross
The Twelfth Station - HERE Jesus dies on the Cross
The Thirteenth Station - HERE Jesus is taken down from the Cross
The Fourteenth Station - HERE Jesus is laid in the Sepulchre

The 15th Station

The Fifteenth Station - HERE Jesus rises from the dead
The Franciscan Procession of the Stations of the Cross

© copyright 2001. Reflections, prayers and descriptive text
by John Abela ofm edited by Michael Olteanu
based on research by Albert Storm (SBF - Jerusalem)
Hi-Res pictures prepared by Michael Olteanu
Display pictures prepared by John Abela ofm



Stations:  Main - A - B - C - D/ 1 - 2 - 3 - 4 - 5 - 6 - 7 - 8 - 9 - 10 - 11 - 12 - 13 - 14 - 15 / Proc.
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Created / Updated Sunday, January 6, 2002 at 14:13:25 by John Abela ofm
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