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
Then he released Barabbas to them. But he had Jesus flogged, and handed
him over to be crucified."
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
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
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
Return to "Beyond the Walls: Churches of Jerusalem"