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The Underground Street of Via Dolorosa in Jerusalem *

Via Dolorosa - The exterior of the Polish Catholic Chapel at the third station Photo: Remi Jouan

The modern streets of Jerusalem are no older than the middle ages. So where are the original streets that Jesus would have walked on? Descend underground, beneath the Convent of the Sisters of Zion on the Via Dolorosa, to find the original stones that would have witnessed the events.


(Daryl Petree’s music from this video: https://youtu.be/ZcYxDXGGHGE)

In the 14th century, Pope Clement VI establishing the Franciscan Custody of the Holy Land, and charging the friars with “the guidance, instruction, and care of Latin pilgrims as well as with the guardianship, maintenance, defense and rituals of the Catholic shrines of the Holy Land.” Beginning around 1350, Franciscan friars conducted official tours of the Via Dolorosa, from the Holy Sepulchre to the House of Pilate—opposite the direction travelled by Christ in Bible. The route was not reversed until c. 1517 when the Franciscans began to follow the events of Christ’s Passion chronologically-setting out from the House of Pilate and ending with the crucifixion at Golgotha.

Pietro Lorenzetti’s fresco of women following Jesus on Via Dolorosa, Assisi, 1320 Public Domain

Convent of the Sisters of Zion

The Convent of the Sisters of Zion is a Roman Catholic convent located near the eastern end of the Via Dolorosa in the Old City. The convent was built in 1857 by Marie-Alphonse Ratisbonne. The site includes the Church of Ecce Homo, named for Pontius Pilate’s Ecce homo speech which is traditionally thought to have taken place on the pavement below the church.

Lithostrotos – Gabbatha: Roman pavement  of Ecce Homo
once thought to be the site of Jesus’ trial
Photo: BMNorris 

Beneath the convent is an extensive area of Roman flagstones, known for several centuries due to an etching of a game by Roman soldiers discovered in 1864 involving the execution of a “monk king”. The flagstones were thought by nuns to be those of Gabbatha, which John 19:13 describes as the location where Pontius Pilate adjudged Jesus’ trial. It is possible that following its destruction the Antonia Fortress’s pavement tiles were brought to Hadrian’s plaza.

Via Dolorosa – Accessible Audio Walking Tour in the Old City of Jerusalem

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