Thursday, March 24, 2016

Via Dolorosa

As I had promised for the Passion Week: here comes the blog about the Via Crucis. My memory about my trip to the Holy Land is slowly fading so I decided to limit my writing to two more blogs dealing with Fort Masada and Yad Vashem. With new topics coming up all the time I shall skip my reports about the annexed Golan Heights, the mystical Kabala, the crusader stronghold Akko, and about Haifa, the city of the German Templars and the Bahai.


Before Jesus walked his Way of the Cross he had a last supper with his twelve disciples in the so-called Upper Room. The place located near the Jaffa Gate is nowadays called Mount Zion and is crowned by a church, the Basilica of the Assumption.

Our guide Jonathan is explaining the situation of the Jerusalem quarters.
The Jaffa Gate to the old city is in the Armenian quarter (white)
near the Christian quarter (rose)
The religious density around Mount Sion is high as on the ground floor Jews venerate King David's Tomb.

Entrance to King David's Tomb

King David's coffin

Orthodox Jews are studying the Talmud in an adjacent room

For Christians the vaulting Basilica commemorates the death of the Virgin and the place where she was taken to heaven with body and soul.

Basilica of Assumption
Somewhere in this labyrinth on an upper floor there is the place where, according to tradition, Jesus broke the bread and offered the cup to his disciples: On the first day of the Festival of Unleavened Bread, the disciples came to Jesus and asked, “Where do you want us to make preparations for you to eat the Passover?” He replied, “Go into the city to a certain man and tell him, ‘The Teacher says: My appointed time is near. I am going to celebrate the Passover with my disciples at your house.’” So the disciples did as Jesus had directed them and prepared the Passover. When evening came, Jesus was reclining at the table with the Twelve (Matthew 26:17-20).

The Upper-Room was one of the few places on our trip that was overcrowded. The air was sticky and the place was noisy with guides babbling in many languages. We simply walked through.

People visiting the Upper Room looked bored and tired.


The Via Dolorosa and the Way of the Cross start about 200 meter down the street from the Lions' Gate into the city with two churches on the right hand side: The Church of the Flagellation and the Church of the Condemnation and Imposition of the Cross.

Entrance to the Church of Flagellation
Then Pilatus released Barabbas unto them: and when he had scourged Jesus then he delivered him to be crucified (Matthew 27:26)

Station I: Jesus is condemned to death.
And after that [the soldiers] had mocked him, they took the robe off from him, and put his own raiment on him and led him away to crucify him (Matthew 27:31).

Station II: Jesus receives His Cross
Another 200 meters down the street we stopped for snack at the Austrian Hospice of the Holy Family. Red Baron paid a fortune for a small piece of Sachertorte and an espresso.


This place founded in 1863 is worthwhile visiting. It surely smells the Habsburg monarchy.



We felt well protected with Israeli soldiers all along the Way of the Cross.

Station III: Jesus falls the first time under His Cross
And as they came out, they found a man of Cyrene, Simon by name: him they compelled to bear his cross (Matthew 27:32).

Station V: Simon of Cyrene helps Jesus to carry His Cross

Station VII: Jesus falls a second time
The last 200 meters of the Way of the Cross to the Church of the Holy Sepulchre were fully commercialized.


As it was time for lunch Red Baron was looking for a frugal meal and enjoyed an Arabic salad with pita bread and a glass of Israeli beer.


After lunch our group entered the church complex of the Holy Sepulchre built over the last three stations of the Way of the Cross.

Entrance to the church complex of the Holy Sepulchre
Jesus, when he had cried again with a loud voice, yielded up the ghost. And, behold, the veil of the temple was rent in twain from the top to the bottom; and the earth did quake, and the rocks rent; and the graves were opened; and many bodies of the saints which slept arose, and came out of the graves after his resurrection, and went into the holy city, and appeared unto many (Matthew 27:50-53)

Station XII: Jesus dies on the Cross
When the even was come, there came a rich man of Arimathaea, named Joseph, who also himself was Jesus' disciple. He went to Pilate, and begged the body of Jesus. Then Pilate commanded the body to be delivered (Matthew 27:57-58)

Station XIII: Jesus is taken down from the Cross
And laid it in his own new tomb, which he had hewn out in the rock: and he rolled a great stone to the door of the sepulchre, and departed (Matthew 27:60).

Station XIV: Jesus is laid in the tomb
All people around us were not calm but rather hectic standing in a long line to enter the Aedicula Sacra (Holy Shrine). We decided not to wait but rather had a look at similar caves in the building complex.


And suddenly all was quiet. I was alone in the tastefully decorated Catholic chapel.

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