The Via Dolorosa often translated as “Way of Suffering” is a processional route in the Old City of Jerusalem, Israel. In fact, it is believed to be the path that Jesus walked on the way to his crucifixion. The winding route from the former Antonia Fortress to the Church of the Holy Sepulchre; is a celebrated place of Christian pilgrimage. The current route has been established since the 18th century; replacing various earlier versions. 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.
The Via Dolorosa begins in the Muslim Quarter, north of the Temple Mount, and ends at the Church of the Holy Sepulcher in the Christian Quarter. The Via Dolorosa includes 14 stations, in which something happened to Jesus on his way to the cross: in one station, he fell, while in the other, he met his mother. Nine Via Dolorosa stops are scattered along the way, and the last five are all in the Church of the Holy Sepulcher. The terms “Via Dolorosa” and the Hebrew term “the way of torment” describe a road full of obstacles and difficulties.
Current Traditional Stations of the Via Dolorosa
The traditional route starts inside the Lions’ Gate (St. Stephen’s Gate) in the Muslim Quarter, at the Umariya Elementary School, near the former Antonia Fortress. Then the Via Dolorosa makes its way westward through the Old City to the Church of the Holy Sepulchre in the Christian Quarter.
The current enumeration is partly based on a circular devotional walk organized by the Franciscans in the 14th century; their devotional route, heading east along the Via Dolorosa, began and ended at the Church of the Holy Sepulchre. Also passing through both Gethsemane and Mount Zion during its course.
Trial by Pilate: Stations One and Two
So the first and second stations commemorate the events of Jesus’ encounter with Pontius Pilate; the former in memorial of the biblical account of the trial and Jesus’ subsequent scourging; and the latter in memorial of the Ecce homo speech; attributed by the Gospel of John to Pilate.
Furthermore, on the site are three early 19th-century Roman Catholic churches; taking their names from these events; the Church of the Condemnation and Imposition of the Cross, the Church of the Flagellation; and the Church of Ecce Homo; a large area of Roman paving, beneath these structures; was traditionally regarded as Gabbatha or ‘the pavement’ described in the Bible as the location of Pilate’s judgment of Jesus.