In the old city section of Jerusalem, tradition has determined the “Via Dolorosa” (the Way of Sorrows) for pilgrims wanting to follow the path Jesus took on Good Friday. (Since no one knows the location of Pilate’s Praetorium where Jesus was condemned to death and given the crossbeam to carry to Golgotha, this path is more an invention of Christian devotion than historical fact.)
Tradition has also created stations of the cross along the way. Actually, it is believed, the stations of the cross first appeared in Europe for the faithful who could not go to the Holy Land. Over the centuries, the stations of the cross have varied from 7 to 18 or more, but since the 19th century, 14 stations have been standard– 9 from the New Testament stories of Jesus’ passion and 5 more from tradition – the three times he fell, his meeting with his mother and Veronica wiping his brow.
Catholic churches often have stations of the cross in their naves. And now there are spots along the Via Dolorosa that are assigned to each of the 14 stations of the cross. Pilgrims walk the Way of the Cross every Friday afternoon in Jerusalem.
Last year, Virginia Theological Seminary created an online version of the Way of the Cross that we will be using on the Wednesday nights of Lent after Ash Wednesday. Essentially, it will be reflection and prayer on a couple of the stations of the cross each week. It provides an ordered way to contemplate Jesus’ passion as we draw near Holy Week and Easter. Please consider yourself invited and join us…