Via Dolorosa: The Path of Sorrow

Via Dolorosa: The Path of Sorrow

There are many ways to translate Via Dolorosa: the Way of Grief, the Painful Way, the Way of Sorrow, the Way of Suffering. One thing runs clearly through all definitions though; Jesus underwent tremendous suffering for the holy work he did. The Via Dolorosa was named so because it represents the very pathway that Jesus proceeded along while making his way towards his crucifixion by the Romans. Learn more about the Via Dolorosa so you can appreciate the momentous avenue when you take your next holiday in Israel.

Walking the Path

The 2,000-ft path begins at Antonia Fortress and curves its way westward towards the Church of the Holy Sepulchre. It has been confirmed since the 18th century to be the accurate path walked by Jesus on his way to the crucifixion (despite earlier claims of an alternate route). The way is flanked by nine Stations of the Cross, and Via Dolorosa remains one of the most frequently visited Christian sites in the world.

Tourists generally start their trek at the Lion’s Gate just within the Muslim Quarter of the Old City of Jerusalem. This was the place where the Antonia Fortress previously stood, and today, the Umariya Elementary School stands in its place. Travelers continue along the path until they reach the Church within the Christian Quarter, another significant landmark that no Christian tourist should leave Israel without seeing.

The Nine Stations

As mentioned, nine stations run alongside the path, each with its own significance:

  1. The trial and flagellation of Jesus by Pilate
  2. The speech given by the Gospel of John to Pilate
  3. The first Fall (three noted locations where Jesus stumbled or lowered himself during his travel for various reasons) adjacent to the Polish Catholic Chapel
  4. The first Encounter (four noted locations where Jesus encountered various people along his walk, two of these walks have textual references, while the other two remain tradition) with Mary
  5. The second Encounter with Simon of Cyrene
  6. The third Encounter with Veronica
  7. The second Fall stands across from a Franciscan chapel near a crossroad
  8. The fourth Encounter with the pious women
  9. The third Fall is not on the Via Dolorosa at all. Instead, it stands beneath the entranceway to two monasteries, the Ethiopian and the Coptic Orthodox Monasteries, that together create the roof of the Chapel of Saint Helena.

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