Bible Review 12:6, December 1996

The Geography of Faith

Tracing the Via Dolorosa

By Jerome Murphy-O’Connor

The Latin words Via Dolorosa mean the “Sorrowful Way.” They were first used by the Franciscan Boniface of Ragusa in the second half of the 16th century as the name of the devotional walk through the streets of Jerusalem that retraced the route followed by Jesus as he carried his cross to Golgotha. It is also known as the Via Crucis, the “Way of the Cross.” Today it is divided into 14 segments by a series of stops, called stations, where pilgrims pray (see map of Via Dolorosa route).

The fourteen stations are

(1) Christ is condemned to death by Pontius Pilate (Mark 15:6–20).

(2) The cross is laid upon Jesus (John 19:17).

(3) Jesus falls for the first time.

(4) Jesus meets his mother, who collapses in shock (the spasm).

(5) Simon of Cyrene is forced to carry the cross (Mark 15:21).

(6) Veronica wipes the face of Jesus.

(7) Jesus falls for the second time.

(8) Jesus meets the women of Jerusalem (Luke 23:27–31).

(9) Jesus falls for the third time.

(10) Jesus is stripped of his garments (Mark 15:24).

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