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    The Stations of the Cross in Jerusalem - Reflection
    The 5th Station:
    HERE Simon the Cyrenean helps Jesus carry the Cross

    Jesus moves on along the valley. Now before him appears the hill where he was to be crucified. Not too steep, but steep enough for a man who had suffered the lashes and whose face had been dripping blood due to the crown of thorns he was still wearing. His feet were trembling again. The soldiers were trying to keep abreast the crowds who were gathering along the path.

    They realized that this man was not going to make it. They needed help. They looked among the crowd and saw a sturdy man, Simeon from Cyrene ("A certain man from Cyrene, Simon, the father of Alexander and Rufus, was passing by on his way in from the country, and they forced him to carry the cross" - Mk 15,21). They thought he could help.

    He was accompanied by his two young children Alexander and Rufus. They too were questioning their father about what was happening. They had never before seen a crucifixion and like all children they were curious. Their father could not explain to them why today, on the eve of their main celebration, the Romans were executing these three persons. Neither could he explain to them why one of them was bleeding and wearing a crown of thorns.He had been in his fields. He did not know what had happened during the morning.

    A Roman soldier moves on to him and with arrogance pushes him over. He was afraid, as were his sons. The Roman soldier tries to explain what he wanted him to do.

    And Simeon, seeing the bleeding man, did not hesitate. He came out and took upon his shoulders Jesus' cross-beam. This was their first meeting and Jesus looked at the man. Who knows what they must have said to each other? Who knows what impression Jesus made on Simeon?

    Surely, they moved uphill and Jesus followed suit. Someone on the wayside heard him mumble these words: "Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light" (Mt 11,28-30).

    A Prayer

    Dear Jesus, how relieved you must have felt when the Cyrene took from your shoulders the weight of the cross-beam! That must have helped you a lot to face the steep uphill walk toward Calvary. The Cyrenian shared with you the burden!

    I ask you, dear Jesus, to teach me to come forward whenever someone is crushed under the burden of life. Teach me how to forget myself for the sake of alleviating the sufferings of the others. Help me be a voice for those who cannot speak, an eye for those who cannot see, an ear for those who cannot hear. But above all, let me be a heart for those who cannot find love and care in a world so full of prejudice! Let me be a source of light for those who are burdened by a senseless dark life. Dear Jesus, let me share with you the weight as the Cyrene did!
    The Site


    A view of the Chapel at the Fifth Station

    All the Synoptic Gospels mention this event. There is a small Franciscan chapel at the corner where the Tyropeon Valley turns toward the Market Road (on the right, in the east-west direction). This chapel marks the devotion of the Cyrenian helping Jesus to carry the Cross.

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    Inside the Franciscan Chapel of the Fifth Station

    It is interesting that way back in 1294, the Dominican Ricoldo da Monte Croce writes: "(after the station of Jesus' encounter with his mother) there is a transversal road leading to the city, where Simeon the Cyrenian, coming from the countryside, was obliged to carry the cross. At this spot there is a place belonging to the Friars Minor").
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    Another view of the Fifth Station

    It was only in 1889 that the Franciscans succeeded in securing ownership of this site once again. They renovated it in 1982.
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    Reflections and Prayers by John Abela ofm
    Descriptive text by John Abela, ofm and Michael Olteanu based on research by Albert Storm (SBF - Jerusalem)
    Hi-Res pictures prepared by Michael Olteanu
    Display pictures prepared by John Abela ofm

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