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Middle East

Path of the Cross

Photo by Amy Harris/The Travel Addict

The Via Dolorosa in the Old City of Jerusalem believed to be the path Jesus walked on the way to his crucifixion. The specific path of this route has varied over the centuries and continues to be the subject of debate. The traditional route starts just inside the Lions’ Gate (St. Stephen’s Gate) in the Muslim Quarter, at the Umariya Elementary School, near the location of the former Antonia Fortress, and makes its way westward through the Old City to the Church of the Holy Sepulchre in the Christian Quarter.

It is today marked by nine Stations of the Cross; there have been fourteen stations since the late 15th century, with the remaining five stations being inside the Church of the Holy Sepulchre. Station one is used to mark where Jesus was condemned to death. Popular tradition has it that Jesus stumbled three times during his walk along the route; this belief is currently manifested in the identification of the three stations at which these falls occurred. Stations three, seven and nine mark the fall locations. 

The fourth station marks where Jesus met his mother Mary. The fifth station refers to the biblical episode in which Simon of Cyrene takes Jesus’ cross, and carries it for him. The Eighth station commemorates an episode described by the Gospel of Luke, in which Jesus encounters pious women on his journey, and is able to stop and give a sermon.

This walk is often re-enacted and done by pilgrims and believers who visit the old city. We walked the route and toured each of the stops as well. It was surreal to walk this path in person. Some of the path is even through a modern-day market with small markings to side chapels for some of the stops along the path.

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