Tuesday, June 14, 2011
Jerusalem Part 1: Via Dolorosa
Last year when I was in Jerusalem, I wondered if we’d be visiting any Christian sites. We barely had time to hit all the Jewish sites, let along tackle another religion. But the thought wasn’t too far off; all three large religions, Christianity, Judaism and Islam have ties to Jerusalem.
The desktop picture of my computer depicts the Western Wall in the Center and Dome of the Rock on the right. Little did I realize the tower on the left is associated with Christianity; this is the “Antonia Tower” and it is a site of the Roman fortress where Jesus was condemned to death.
Because it is close to impossible to drive in Jerusalem if you don’t know where to go, my family opted to instead take a tour of the city. This means the trip was split between Christian and Jewish Holy Sites. So in reality we spent a lot more time on the Christian Holy Site the Basilica of the Holy Sepulchre than the Western Wall, but it is what it is.
While I am familiar with the different stations along Via Dolorosa, I really didn’t know specifics. After visiting and taking the tour I learned a lot touring the Basilica and the path.
Via Dolorosa, or “Way of Sorrow” is the path Jesus walked on his way to Calvary Hill to be crucified. The way winds through the old city of Jerusalem, from Ecce Homo Covenant to Basilica of the Holy Sepulchre; along the way different monuments are placed for the different stations.
The stations are as follows.
Station I is where Jesus was condemned to death.
Station II is where Jesus took up the cross. This is located in the same area as Station I; “Antonia Tower.”
Station III is where Jesus fell under the cross for the first time.
Station IV, where Jesus saw his mother Mary. Tradition dictates that Mary stood close to the roadside to see Her Son.
Station V is where Simon the Cyrenian is forced to carry the Cross. Fearing Jesus would die prematurely, Simon, a random man on the street was ordered to carry the cross. The path gets very steep at this point; imagining carrying the cross this distance and up the incline is very difficult to do.
Station VI is where Veronica wiped the sweat from Jesus’ face.
Station VII is where Jesus fell for the second time.
Station VIII is where Jesus consoled the women of Jerusalem.
Station IX is where Jesus fell for the third time; this was in site of the Holy Sepulchre Basilica, the place of his death.
Station X is where Jesus is stripped of His garments.
Station XI Jesus is nailed to the Cross.
Station XII Jesus Dies. The Rock of Cavalry is where the Cross was placed in the ground, and it is said Jesus’ blood spilled below on the rocks.
Station XIII Jesus is taken down from the Cross. This is depicted with the Stone of Unction.
Station XIV Jesus is laid in the tomb, and this is Christendom’s most sacred place. It is the site of Jesus burial and Resurrection, and it is the focal point of the entire Basilica of the Holy Sepulchre, which was erected by the Crusaders on Byzantine foundations dating from the time of Constantine the Great.
The Basilica of the Holy Sepulchre is said to be directly above the tomb of Christ. This means it is probably one of the most important places for Christians. In 312 C.E. Constantine built the first Church at the site. It is said to have been much larger than the one at the site today, but was much simpler. This church was severely destroyed by the Persians in 614 C.E. when they invaded Jerusalem. It was later destroyed fully by Hakim 1009 C.E.
The Crusaders slowly rebuilt the church. The Armenian, Latin and Greek Orthodox communities gained the most responsibility in renovating the church. Over the centuries it suffered damage. The current church was built in 1959, and there is a mish mash of different building styles in the church. Because there are also so many different traditions across the Christian community, each has its own unique way of decorating chapels and shrines, adding to the look of the Church.
I have had the fortune of visiting churches in Europe including Vatican City. This Church is spectacular and it is unlike any place I have visited before. In this Church east meets west; the decorations are very characteristic of both regions. In addition, the church is dripping with decadence. Every part of the church is decorated, making its beauty overwhelming and awe inspiring at the same time.
Thinking back I realize I need to see the site again. There was so much to see there was no I way I was going to see everything. Another thing to note is that Via Dolorosa is now located through the Bazaar; shopping was spectacular. Obviously we did not have the time to shop, so seeing the possibilities enticed me.
I am putting only some of the pictures I took up. Enjoy, and stay patient between posts. I’m at my dig now, so early mornings are in my future and time is a bit scarce. But so far, the dig has been great.
Greek Orthodox side
Crosses Carved into the Walls