Every Friday afternoon at 3 p.m., several Friars Minor and many pilgrims assemble in the courtyard of a Muslim school in Jerusalem’s Old City to begin the Stations of the Cross. That school is built on the probable site of the Fortress Antonia, where Pontius Pilate condemned Jesus to death, and near the Dome of the Rock mosque.
Across the street from the school is the Studium Biblicum Franciscanum, a graduate school founded in 1924 for Scripture study. It contains a chapel for the second station (Jesus accepts his cross). Seven other stations are commemorated along the Via Dolorosa (Sorrowful Way) until the group reaches the Church of the Holy Sepulchre, where the last five stations are celebrated.
In the year 400, the pilgrim Hegeria reported that she had participated in a procession in Jerusalem to commemorate Jesus’ passage to Calvary. The number of stations varied over the years until 1731 when Pope Clement XII fixed it at 14, allowing all churches to have them. Since the days of Ottoman rule, a kawas (official hired by the Christians) has accompanied the pilgrims. The friars use a portable loudspeaker for outdoor stations. Franciscans have promoted the Stations of the Cross devotion around the world.
Photo: Dmitry Sunagatov/PhotoXpress