Stations of the Cross and the Church of the Holy Sepulchre


Stations of the Cross (or Way of the Cross; in Latin, Via Crucis; also called the Via Dolorosa or Way of Sorrows, or simply, The Way) refers to the depiction of the final hours (or Passion) of Jesus Christ, and the devotion commemorating the Passion. The tradition as chapel devotion began with St. Francis of Assisi and extended throughout the Roman Catholic Church in the medieval period. It is less often observed in the Anglican and Lutheran churches. It may be done at any time, but is most commonly done during the Season of Lent, especially on Good Friday and on Friday evenings during Lent.

Spiritual Significance

The object of the Stations is to help the faithful to make a spiritual pilgrimage of prayer, through meditating upon the chief scenes of Christ’s sufferings and death. It has become one of the most popular devotions for Roman Catholics, as well as featuring in the worship and devotion of other Christian denominations.

In the Roman Catholic tradition, the meditation is often performed in a spirit of reparation for the sufferings and insults that Jesus endured during His Passion.

The Stations

In its traditional form, the Stations of the Cross go from the Lions’ Gate to the Church of the Holy Sepulchre via Dolorosa.  The Stations themselves are marked by circular metallic plaques with Roman numerals and concentric cobblestones on the ground.  Today, churches or altars have been built on most of the Stations. There are some alternate forms but the 14 stations described below are the ones most commonly followed and the one we tracked and included in the photos:

1. Jesus is condemned to death
2. Jesus receives the cross
3. Jesus falls the first time
4. Jesus meets His Mother, Mary
5. Simon of Cyrene carries the cross
6. Veronica wipes Jesus’ face with her veil
7. Jesus falls the second time
8. Jesus meets the daughters and women of Jerusalem
9. Jesus falls the third time
10. Jesus is stripped of His garments
11. Crucifixion: Jesus is nailed to the cross
12. Jesus dies on the cross
13. Jesus’ body is removed from the cross (Deposition or Lamentation)
14. Jesus is laid in the tomb and covered in incense.

For you movie fans, Mel Gibson’s 2004 film, The Passion of Christ, follows the Stations of the Cross. The fourteenth and last station, the Burial, is not prominently depicted (compared to the other thirteen) but it is implied since the last shot before credit titles is Jesus resurrected and about to leave the tomb.

The Church of the Holy Sepulchre

The Church of the Holy Sepulchre (Latin: Sanctum Sepulchrum), also called the Church of the Resurrection by Eastern Christians, is a Christian church within the walled Old City of Jerusalem. The site is venerated by most Christians as Golgotha, (the Hill of Calvary), where the New Testament says that Jesus was crucified and is said to also contain the place where Jesus was buried (the sepulchre). The church has been an important pilgrimage destination since at least the 4th century, as the purported site of the Death and Resurrection of Jesus. Today it also serves as the headquarters of the Greek Orthodox Patriarch of Jerusalem. It is contains the last few Stations of the Cross.

For the Christians among you, this is truly a spiritual experience – if you can look beyond the hoards of tourists!  For me, there was much more significance and tangibility in the Church of the Holy Sepulchre than any other Christian atlar or reliquary I have ever visited around the world.  Highly recommended!

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