Via Dolorosa, Jerusalem
Along St Mary's Gate Street in Jerusalem, begins the Via Dolorosa, the first section of which runs along the east-west longitudinal axis of the Antonia Fortress. This "Way of Sorrow" was the route followed by Christ after his condemnation on his way to the place of execution on Golgotha. Every Friday at 3pm a procession led by Italian Franciscans makes its way along the Via Dolorosa, the course of which is marked by the fourteen Stations of the Cross, some of them based on the Gospels' accounts of the Passion and some on tradition.Stations I-IX are on the Via Dolorosa, Stations X-XIV in the Church of the Holy Sepulcher, which is built over Golgotha and Christ's Tomb. The Stations on the Via Dolorosa are not to be regarded as historical sites but as stages in the procession. The detritus of many centuries has raised the ground level much above its level in the time of Christ, and later building has altered the line of the streets in detail. The course of the Via Dolorosa has thus frequently changed down the centuries, and the number of Stations has increased from the original seven to the present fourteen. The present route dates mainly from the 18th century; Stations I, IV, V and VIII were established only in the 19th century. Station I (Christ is condemned to death) lies on the south side of the Via Dolorosa, in the courtyard of the El-Omariye Medrese, to which a flight of steps leads up. Here every Friday the Franciscan friars assemble for their procession. From window recesses in the south wall, on the line of the south wall of the Antonia, there is a very fine view of the Temple platform. Station II (Christ takes up the Cross) is on the other side of the Via Dolorosa at the entrance to the Chapel of the Condemnation. We now leave the site of the Antonia and continue west to Station III (Christ falls for the first time), on the left at the junction with King Solomon Street. Here we turn sharp left to reach Station IV (Christ meets his Mother) and then sharp right into a street at the near end of which is Station V (Simon of Cyrene helps Christ to carry the Cross). Farther along the street is Station VI (Veronica wipes the sweat off Christ's brow with her handkerchief). Crossing a densely populated bazaar street (Suq Khan ez-Zeit), we come to Stations VII (Christ falls for the second time) and VIII (Christ speaks to the weeping women). Here we must turn back, since the direct route to Golgotha through one of the city gates has been walled up since the Middle Ages. Returning to Suq Khan ez-Zeit and turning right along this street, we come in some 60m/65yds to a broad flight of steps on the right which leads to Station IX (Christ falls for the third time), marked by a Roman column between the Coptic Patriarchate (on right) and the entrance to the Abyssinian Monastery (on left).
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