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    The Stations of the Cross in Jerusalem - Reflection
    The 1st Station: HERE Jesus is condemned to death

    Pilate was furious at their stubborness. His soldiers had placed a crown of thorns on the victim's head and put on his shoulder a purple robe. Well, he did not have the figure of a king anyway and no matter how much those underneath had been screaming he still could not find a reason to crucify this man.

    He had to be bold. This bunch of fanatics were using him. He knew it. He had to show them that he was not weak, that he was not going to be deceived by their treacherous plans. He insisted that it was them who had opted for his death, it was them who had to take full responsibility for their deeds.

    How was he going to convince them? Did he need to? Of course not! So many hours had already passed. He felt the uneasiness growing while he was not able to find a solution out of this impasse. So "he brought Jesus out and sat down on the judge's seat at a place known as the Stone Pavement (which in Aramaic is Gabbatha)"(Jn 19,13). This had to appear to be a solemn deed.

    When he sat down at last to pass judgement "his wife sent him this message: "Don't have anything to do with that innocent man, for I have suffered a great deal today in a dream because of him." (Mt 27,19). A moment of panic and confusion struck him but he could not keep procrastinating any longer so "he took water and washed his hands in front of the crowd. "I am innocent of this man's blood," he said. "It is your responsibility!" (Mt 27,24) He rushed inside and left Jesus in the hands of his soldiers to execute the sentence!

    A Prayer

    Dear Jesus, what did you feel during these terrible moments? How could you ignore the venom that was spit in your face? How could you remain silent? Why didn't you show them again your powers? In this courtyard I can feel your downcast eyes praying the Father for the sins of many, including mine. Yes, dear Jesus, I can see your pain in being treated like a traitor, like a villain when all you did was preach and practice Love!

    Carry me with you up this path to Calvary, Lord, so that I too may learn how to be meek in the most difficult situations of my life.

    The Site

    The courtyard of the el-Omariye college.

    It is since the 16th century that the first Station of the Way of the Cross in Jerusalem is situated at this site where the Antonia Fortress stood. Most of the buildings go back to the first half of the 19th century and were used for a long time as barracks. The whole is of little architectural interest. Before 1927 the only element on any importance was a construction erected in the southern wing identified as a medieval chapel. The site of el-Omariyye College is only one part of what tradition considered to be the Praetorium of Pilate. The other part took up the northern side of the street.
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    A model of the Antonia Fortress which stood at this site

    This is how the fortress looked as it was situated to the north of the Temple and served as headquarters for the Roman garrison in the city.

    Pilgrims taking part in the Way of the Cross on a Friday

    Every pilgrim, and even the most unbelieving tourist, wishes to follow those streets traditionally linked with the carrying of the cross and to halt, however briefly, at those places commemorating the last episodes of the Passion. Since the 16th century these streets have been known as the "Sorrowful Way" (Via Dolorosa).

    Another group of devout pilgrims carrying the Cross along the Via Dolorosa

    It is common practice that pilgims following the "Way of the Cross" carry a wooden cross along the way up to Calvary.
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    Reflections and Prayers by John Abela ofm
    Descriptive text by John Abela, ofm and Michael Olteanu based on research by Albert Storm (SBF - Jerusalem)
    Hi-Res pictures prepared by Michael Olteanu
    Display pictures prepared by John Abela ofm

    THE WAY OF THE CROSS - Navigation
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     Created / Updated Tuesday, March 31, 1998 at 02:30:25
     by John Abela ofm for the Maltese Province and the Custody of the Holy Land
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