The Christian pilgrims from all over the world to Jerusalem consider a walk along Via Dolorosa to be the most meaningful and important thing to do. This route is remembered and well known because it was taken by Jesus in between the Pilate’s condemnation, the crucifixion followed by the burial. Though Christians belonging to various denominations follow the Via Dolorosa pilgrimage, the Orthodox and Catholics especially follow this route.
Just after the religion was made legal by Constantine during the middle of the 4th century, the pilgrimage of Via Dolorosa was safe to be done. Over the past centuries this route has changed its course a plenty of times. Initially the pilgrims from the Byzantine used to follow a similar path to the modern route.
During the 8th century the route of Via Dolorosa commenced from the Garden of Gethsemane to the Mount Zion in the south and then it got doubled across the Temple Mount followed to the Holy Sepulchre. However, during the Middle Ages, the route was split into two. The Churches belonging to the east were tended to eastwards while the wests were towards the west.
The Franciscan Route began to be followed in the 14th to the 16th century. The pilgrims proceeded from the Church of Holy Sepulchre followed by eight stations. However six more stations were added soon. The stations were increased with the tradition of fourteen stations of the Cross was emerging in Europe.
In the modern times, the main route of the pilgrimage through Via Dolorosa is nearly similar to the pilgrims of the Byzantine times. This route consists of fourteen stations. There are slight contradictions in belief and thus different pilgrims follow alternate routes through Via Dolorosa. The Dominican Catholics commence their walk from the Jaffa Gate whereas the Anglicans tend to believe that the original route was led to the Garden Tomb at the north.
Whatever be the beliefs the stations and the precise locations of the events are of less importance to the pilgrims to Via Dolorosa. The walk is of sole importance with the series of original events bestowing all through the way. Today’s Via Dolorosa starts from the Lion’s Gate which is located in the Muslim Quarter and ends up to the Christian Quarter at the Church of Holy Sepulchre. The total distance is about 500 metres with fourteen stations in between. Via Dolorosa is not ideal for prayers as the route is through several busy streets which are immensely populated with various shops, restaurant and snacks bar for the tourists and pilgrims.
All the fourteen stations in the Via Dolorosa are marked with plaque but are tough to be spot because of their small size. A Friday Procession or a walk with a guide can possibly ensure one to recognize each of the fourteen spots at Via Dolorosa. It is a good idea to prepare for the route beforehand. A forth planning will not only introduce one to the route thoroughly but also will provide a brief description upon each of the fourteen stations. The walk through Via Dolorosa is indeed the most important and essential walk for the Christian pilgrims to Jerusalem city.