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Via Dolorosa: Did Jesus Walk Here to his Crucifixion?


Via Dolorosa in Jerusalem

Via Dolorosa in Jerusalem

What is the Via Dolorosa?:

Via Dolorosa is Latin for the “way of sorrows” or “way of pain.” It is an important pilgrimage route for Christians in Jerusalem to commemorate the path taken by Jesus when carrying the cross to the site of his crucifixion. There are 14 devotional sites along the way where people stop to pray, none of which existed in the earliest centuries — they are products of medieval Christian practices.

Where is the Via Dolorosa?:

One of the major streets cutting through Jerusalem, it runs from the Lion's Gate where people believe that Jesus appeared before Pontius Pilate and ends at the Church of the Holy Sepulcher where people believe Jesus was crucified and resurrected. The route has changed many times over the centuries and it is unlikely that this street is at all connected to a route taken by Jesus — he would have been convicted at the Herodian palace on the other side of the city.

Why is the Via Dolorosa important?:

Walking the Via Dolorosa is an important part of any Christian trip to Jerusalem. Although it’s implausible that anyone sentenced to crucifixion would have walked any part of the route, it allows Christians to feel like they are following in the footsteps of Jesus. During the Easter season, some even go so far as to carry a cross or the cross-beam of a cross as they make the journey.

Much of the Christian tourism in the Jerusalem region is focused on convincing people that they are somehow walking in the same places and doing the same things that Jesus did, regardless of whether there exists any genuine historical connection. It is unlikely, however, that historical connections are the point — emotional and psychological connections are what people seek.

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