Via Dolorosa: The Way of the Cross

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The Via Dolorosa is a route of 14 stations through the old city that represents the path Jesus walked while carrying his cross from his condemnation to his place of crucifixion. The tradition of a pilgrimage route dates to the Byzantine era although there were competing routings until Pope Clement VI put down the hammer and established this one as official in the 14th century.

Nine of the stations are based on incidents from the biblical record and five are not. The last five stations are in the Church of the Holy Sepulcher. Whether Jesus actually passed any of these locations on the way to his death is debatable. The path is crowded with tourists as well as being lined with active businesses - not all tourism related. As with so many other holy experiences on this trip, the chaos and contrived nature of the ritual dulled the spiritual power of the underlying story for many of us. That and the fact we were all so exhausted from a sequence of 12-hour days packed with sites.

We began the walk with a bus drop-off at the northeast corner of the Old City, walking past the Arab Yeusefiya Cemetery and into the city through the Lion's Gate.

Take care of the music, and the music will take care of you. (Jac Holzman)