CHURCH OF THE CONDEMNATION AND IMPOSITION OF THE CROSS

Catholic - Franciscan Order
Located within the Franciscan Compound:
Station IV, Via Dolorosa, Old City
[#20 on the Old City map]


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" While Pilate was sitting on the judge's seat, his wife sent him this message: 'Don't have anything to do with that innocent man, for I have suffered a great deal today in a dream because of him.' But the chief priests and the elders persuaded the crowd to ask for Barabbas and to have Jesus executed.
'Which of the two do you want me to release to you?' asked the governor. 'Barabbas,' they answered. 'What shall I do, then, with Jesus who is called Christ?' Pilate asked. They all answered, 'Crucify him!' 'Why? What crime has he committed?' asked Pilate. But they shouted all the louder, 'Crucify him!'
When Pilate saw that he was getting nowhere, but that instead an uproar was starting, he took water and washed his hands in front of the crowd.
'I am innocent of this man's blood,' he said. 'It is your responsibility!' All the people answered, 'Let his blood be on us and on our children!'
Then he released Barabbas to them. But he had Jesus flogged, and handed him over to be crucified."

MATTHEW 27:19-26

Originally a Byzantine church of resplendent beauty, the Chapel of the Condemnation and Imposition of the Cross was at a later period turned into a mosque. The church, which marked the site where Jesus took up the cross after being sentenced to crucifixion, was finally restored at the beginning of the twentieth century. By the end of its renovation in 1904 it had returned to its former Byzantine splendor.
Today's lovely sanctuary is topped by five shiny white domes, each of them sitting on a stained-glass window- enveloped drum. But most extraordinary is the artwork within the church interior: papier-mache figures in the apse tell some of the most powerful stories of the Passion. In one of the representations, Pontius Pilate condemns Jesus to crucifixion. Another haunting scene shows John desperately trying to keep the Virgin Mary from seeing Jesus carrying a cross down the Via Dolorosa.
These figures will remind anyone who has wandered through Northern France of a phenomenon known as the Parish Close. During the Middle Ages, when illiteracy was commonplace, leaders of the French church racked their brains for a way to familiarize the peasants with the Scriptures. In what was a truly creative solution, they decided to decorate each village parish with superbly carved figures that played out all the major biblical scenes.
Other momentous biblical events and individuals are pictured in the church's brilliantly colored stained-glass windows. Angels can be seen within the small windows in the ceiling; in wall illustrations Pontius Pilate washes his hands, and soldiers impose the cross on Jesus.
Four thick pink marble pillars support the ceiling. Pilasters are found on many of the walls, and miniature Corinthian pillars appear to be holding up the altar.
An interesting feature of this church is the Roman- period floor found next to its western wall. Typical of floors of that era, it is made of very large, striated stones that kept people from slipping as they walked.

Visiting hours: Daily 8:00-12:00; 14:00-17:00

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