Highlights of the Stations of the Cross – Via Dolorosa
Some of the stations along the route can be hard to spot, so it is advised to either bring a guide or to be well prepared before walking Via Dolorosa. Every Friday the Franciscans lead a weekly procession down Via Dolorosa which is open for outside participation. The procession starts inside Lions Gate in the northern end of the Old City.
Background Information on the Via Dolorosa
Jesus walked on Via Dolorosa on the way to his crucifixion on Golgotha, after being sentenced by Pontius Pilate. The traditional road he took is still there, marked by 14 stations indicating the events along the way, with the last station being inside the Church of Holy Sepulchre.
From the first of 14 stations, the climb to the skull hill is steep at times as the road snakes up toward the Holy Sepulchre church. Catholics and Orthodox believe that the church was built on the location of Jesus’ death, burial and resurrection.
Some of the stations allow pilgrims to step off the main road. Small nooks in the stone walls open up to chapels where pilgrims can pray before continuing on their journey.
I. Beginning just after Lion’s Gate, the first station, where Jesus was believed to be condemned, is now a Muslim girls school and is not accessible to pilgrims.
II. The second station, however, where Jesus received his cross to carry, houses a chapel and the Church of the Condemnation. A serene stone courtyard ringed by greenery is just off the main road providing a place of respite from the throngs.
III. Down the road to where the Via Dolorosa turns left is station three. This stop represents the first time Jesus fell under the weight of the cross he bore.
IV. Immediately next to the third station, the fourth is inside the Armenian Hospice, the Armenian Catholic Patriachate. A peaceful cafe courtyard and a church are inside this station.
V. Roman soldiers forced Simon the Cyrene to help Jesus carry the cross. A chapel at the fifth station is named for Simon and a chapel marks this transfer of the cross to the Cyrene. The Via Dolorosa turns right, again heading up the hill toward the Holy Sepulchre.
VI. Further up the hill is the sixth station, where Veronica wiped the face of Jesus. Behind the stone wall is an elaborate underground chapel. A small gift shop is at street level.
VII. Before the road veers off again, the seventh station is marked by a chapel directly on the market road. This chapel marks the second time Jesus fell.
VIII. The Via Dolorosa turns left then a quick right. Up the hill a ways, a number on the wall marks station eight. There is no chapel or entry point. It is here that Jesus addressed the daughters of Zion, comforting and encouraging them no to weep.
IX. To find the ninth station, backtrack back to the market road, make a right, then take your first right. A long staircase doubles back to the roof of the Holy Sepulchre where station nine may be found. Two churches, the Egyptian Coptic church, St. Helen’s, and an Ethiopian sanctuary are both here. The ninth station remembers Jesus’ third fall.
X. After descending through two chapels, you arrive at the entrance of the Holy Sepulchre. The next four stations are in the massive church.
XI-XIV. The remainder of the stations are within the Church of the Holy Sepulchre, including the tomb, the stone where Jesus was laid and Golgotha.
Many pilgrims walk the traditional path every year in commemoration of Jesus’ suffering, but the road today is much like then a busy street full of people and vendors with little room for contemplation and prayer. On Good Friday, many faithful join the procession.