Tuesday, February 12, 2013

The Via Dolorosa - Part II

The Via Dolorosa continues....

Seventh Station: Jesus Falls for the Second Time 
This location, with a small Franciscan chapel inside, marks the place where Jesus passed through the Gate of Judgment, along the streets of Jerusalem.  This street is one of the busiest in the old city, as it may have been during Jesus' time.  It was a main intersection of the Cardo Maximus and a transverse street of the Roman Aelia-Capitolina.  Today it is an intersection of the Via Dolorosa with the souq Khan es-Zeit.  The long walk up the hill and the pressure of the city had taken its toll on Jesus, who falls here for the second time under the weight of the cross.   

Eighth Station: Jesus Speaks to the Women of Jerusalem 
This often overlooked station is where Jesus met a group of pious women who were weeping for him openly.  Here he stopped to offer them comforting words of wisdom.
  This event is marked by a stone with a Latin cross on the wall of a Greek Orthodox church.    Near the cross, an inscription reads: "Jesus Christ the Victor."  

Ninth Station: Jesus Falls for the Third Time 
Tradition tells us that Jesus collapsed for a third time not far from where he would be crucified.  A Roman column indicates the location of his third and final fall.  
This column has been incorporated into the wall of a Coptic Church (Coptics are Egyptian Christians similar to the Catholics).  During the Crusader period, there was a large monastery here; the remains of it are still visible today.  Close by, you can see the roof of St Helena's Chapel which is a part of the Church of the Holy Sepulchre, where a community of Abyssinian monks live today.    


CHURCH OF THE HOLY SEPULCHRE 
The Church was built over the site considered to be Golgotha (also known as the place of the Skull and/or the Hill of Calvary), where Jesus was crucified and buried.  The word Sepulchre means grave or burial chamber.  The church is one of the most important sites for Christians to visit in Jerusalem.   Today, it also serves as the headquarters of the Greek Orthodox Patriarch of Jerusalem, while control of the building is shared between several Christian churches.  Services are held in different areas of the building by the Roman Catholics, the Armenians, Syrians, Copts, the Greek Orthodox and the Abyssinians who occupy a portion of the roof.   
We enter into the Church of the Holy Sepulchre in order 
to see the final 5 stations of the cross.  
The Church of the Holy Sepulchre has a Crusader facade and was
 reconsecrated on July 15, 1149 - 50 years to the day after the capture 
of Jerusalem by the First Crusade.  The courtyard is shown in the picture above.  


Tenth Station: Jesus Stripped of His Garments 
This main courtyard also leads to the small Franciscan chapel at the 10th Station where Jesus was stripped of his clothing.  Today it is used by Ethiopian Monks.  
We couldn't go into the actual station, but we were able to peer 
through a special window to see into the Latin Chapel.    
This is a better picture taken from the Internet.  :) 

This unobtrusive stairway which leads to Calvary is located on the right just inside the entrance to the Church of the Holy Sepulchre.  It leads to two chapels right next to each other; the first one is owned by the Catholic church (Station 11) and the second one is the Greek Orthodox area (Station 12). They are distinctly different in their designs.

Eleventh Station: Jesus Nailed to the Cros
On the crest of where Golgotha (Calvary) stood, a beautiful Latin shrine marks the spot where soldiers nailed Jesus' hands and feet to the cross.  A beautiful silver altar, a present from the Duke of Tuscany, describes the suffering of Christ in classic Renaissance style.  A magnificent mosaic decorates the place above it depicting the nailing of Jesus to the cross, the binding of Isaac and the anguished disciples of Jesus.  

Twelfth Station:  Jesus Dies on the Cross 
"It was now about the sixth hour, and darkness came over the whole land until 
the ninth hour, for the sun stopped shining. And the curtain of the temple 
was torn in two. Jesus called out with a loud voice, 'Father, into Your Hands 
I commit my spirit.' When he had said this, He breathed His last." (Luke 23, 44-46)

 At the moment of Jesus’ death, the curtain in the Temple, which separated men from the holy of holies, tore from top to bottom. This was terrifying for all the Jews who witnessed the event, who did not realize it signified the end of the Old Covenant and the beginning of the New Covenant. No longer would man have to suffer separation from God because of sin, but we would now be able to approach the throne of grace boldly in prayer for forgiveness of sins. The life and sacrificial death of Jesus had removed the barrier of sin, making it possible for man to obtain salvation by grace.
The Rock of Calvary marks the place of the crucifixion.  The bedrock beneath is the original rock of Golgotha which goes down to the foundation of the Chapel of Adam.  Part of the limestone rock of Calvary can be touched beneath the Altar of the Crucifixion and the faithful wait in line to pray and remember. 
On the back side of the structure, there is also a small chamber where the natural rock-face of Mount Calvary can still be seen.  

 Thirteenth Station: Jesus is taken down from the Cross
Between the Catholic and Greek chapels in the main section of the church, a Catholic altar of Our Lady of Sorrows, depicts Mary with a sword piercing her heart, which commemorates the Thirteenth Station.
This portrait marks the spot where Jesus was taken down from the cross
 while the Virgin Mother stood painfully nearby.
The lifeless body of Jesus was taken from the cross and anointed for burial here.  We see the events depicted by the mosaic above.  The stone of anointing is below.  

The crack in the displayed "Stone of Unction" or the 'Stone of Anointment" where Jesus' body was anointed for burial may have been caused by the earthquake at the time of the crucifixion.  

Fourteenth Station: The Burial and Resurrection of Jesus 
 Passing the canopy erected over the spot where the disciples watched the crucifixion, we entered a large circular chamber, or Rotunda at whose center is the fourteenth station, the stone monument enclosing the Tomb of Christ.   This is the focal point of the church and is the actual "Holy Sepulche".   

 This stone monument encloses the tomb (sepulchre) where it is believed that Jesus lay buried for three days — and where he rose from the dead on Easter Sunday morning.  We waited in line to go inside the monument, which only holds a few people at a time.  

The holiest site for Christians is said to be the tomb of Christ inside the edicule of the Church of the Holy Sepulchre.  This slab is believed to be where Jesus' body was laid in the tomb. The vase of candles marks the place where his head was laid. The banner behind it varies with the liturgical seasons.  We think this one says, "Christ is Risen." 

The most wonderful part of this final station is the fact that Jesus in NOT in the tomb.  
  "Don't be alarmed," he said. "You are looking for Jesus the Nazarene, who was crucified.  He has risen! He is not here. See the place where they laid him" (Mk 16,6).

 We were saddened as we walked along the Via Dolorosa remembering what Jesus experienced for us.  We were joyful at the end of the journey and can now celebrate his resurrection.    "He told them, "This is what is written: The Christ will suffer and rise from the dead on the third day, and repentance and forgiveness of sins will be preached in his name to all nations, beginning at Jerusalem. You are witnesses of these things" (Luke 24: 46-48).

What a range of emotions we experienced on the road with Jesus - 
but what JOY we have in knowing that Jesus is our resurrected Lord!   
"But these are written that you may believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, 
and that by believing you may have life in his name" (John 20:31)

As we leave the Via Dolorosa and the Church of the Holy Sepulchre, Mother waits by a beautiful door at the back of the church.  What an interesting day! 

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