Tracing the Via Dolorosa

Jerome Murphy‐O'Connor

in Keys to Jerusalem

Published in print February 2012 | ISBN: 9780199642021
Published online May 2012 | e-ISBN: 9780191738555 | DOI:
Tracing the Via Dolorosa

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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 sixteenth century as the name of a devotional walk through the streets of Jerusalem, which 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 fourteen segments by a series of stops (called stations) where pilgrims pray. No Gospel references are appended to five stations (nos. 3, 4, 6, 7, 9). This immediately draws attention to a problem. The encounters of Jesus with his mother (no. 4) and Veronica (no. 6), and the three falls (nos. 3, 7, 9) have no basis in Scripture. What guarantee do we have that they are authentic? Once a note of scepticism has been introduced, other questions become inevitable. Can the other incidents be located so precisely? Was the street plan of Jerusalem the same at the time of Jesus? Is the traditional starting point the authentic one? Was the praetorium of Pilate, where Jesus was condemned, at the Antonia fortress, as the present route assumes, or elsewhere?

Keywords: Jesus; Way of the Cross; Veronica; Virgin Mary; Jerusalem; praetorium; Pilates

Chapter.  6819 words.  Illustrated.

Subjects: Biblical Studies

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