Commonly called the "Way of the Cross" in English, Via Dolorosa literally translates as "the Way of Suffering." It's venerated as the route Jesus walked, carrying his cross, from the place of his trial and condemnation by Pontius Pilate to the site of his crucifixion and burial. (Stations I and II are where the Antonia fortress once stood, widely regarded as the site of the "praetorium" referred to in the Gospels.) The present tradition jelled no earlier than the
18th century, but it draws on much older beliefs. Some of the incidents represented by the 14 Stations of the Cross are scriptural; others (III, IV, VI, VII, and IX) are not. Tiny chapels mark a few of the stations; the last five are inside the Church of the Holy Sepulcher. Catholic pilgrim groups, or the Franciscan-led Friday afternoon procession, take about 45 minutes to wind their way through the busy market streets of the Muslim and Christian quarters, with prayers and chants at each station.
Here are the 14 stations on the Via Dolorosa that mark the route that Jesus took, from trial and condemnation to crucifixion and burial.
Station I. Jesus is tried and condemned by Pontius Pilate.
Station II. Jesus is scourged and given the cross.
Station III. Jesus falls for the first time. (Soldiers of the Free Polish Forces built the chapel after World War II.)
Station IV. Mary embraces Jesus.
Station V. Simon of Cyrene picks up the cross.
Station VI. A woman wipes the face of Jesus, whose image remains on the cloth. (She is remembered as Veronica, apparently derived from the words vera and icon, meaning "true image.")
Station VII. Jesus falls for the second time. (The chapel contains one of the columns of the Byzantine Cardo, the main street of 6th-century Jerusalem.)
Station VIII. Jesus addresses the women in the crowd.
Station IX. Jesus falls for the third time.
Station X. Jesus is stripped of his garments.
Station XI. Jesus is nailed to the cross.
Station XII. Jesus dies on the cross.
Station XIII. Jesus is taken down from the cross.
Station XIV. Jesus is buried.