The Via Dolorosa - Visit Its Fourteen PostsThe route to Jesus' death consists of fourteen stations, beginning with the Monastery of Flagellation where the trial of Jesus took place and extending towards the Church of the Holy Sepulchre where, according to the Christian gospels, Jesus was crucified and buried.
It was on the grounds where the Monastery of Flagellation now stands that, in the year 30 AD, Jesus was sent to his death. This location thus marks the first station on the Via Dolorosa. The second station on the path consists of an ancient Roman arch onto which the words spoken by the Roman emperor who sent Jesus to his death are carved. Walking past the ruins of the ancient arch, you will arrive at the third station on the Via Dolorosa, this time commemorating Jesus' first lapse of exhaustion. The third station consists of a small chapel owned by the Armenian Catholic order.
The fourth post on Christ's journey is the spot believed to be the meeting place between Jesus and his mother. These days this historic reunion is captured in the paintings that currently line the walls of the post. Moving on to the fifth post, this is where Christ was approached by Simon the Cyrenian.
The sixth station marks the meeting place of Jesus and the saintly Veronica who wiped his pained face with her scarf. Ironically, while the sixth post is informed by Veronica's benevolence which was to give Jesus some strength, the seventh post commemorates Jesus' second lapse of exhaustion. A pillar now stands erect on these grounds, itself a paradoxical negation to Christ's fallen state.
The eighth post again memorializes the goodness of a passerby. It is here that Christ was helped by yet another pious woman. As is the pattern on the Via Dolorosa, the ninth post symbolizes the place where Christ's body collapsed yet again under the weight of the cross.
The remaining five stations (10th to 14th) are located inside the Church of the Holy Sepulchre and commemorate Jesus' death, the Pieta scene wherein Christ is held by Marry for the last time, and his burial.
In the Gibson movie a battered Christ falls again from exhaustion and shock. At ground level He sees a prostrate Veronica looking with deep compassion and offering her head cloth to wipe away sweat, blood and grime. His face is almost unrecognizable in its woundings. He accepts the cloth, obtains some relief and returns it to the woman. She reverently applies the same to her own face, and then the moment passes.
I have no hint of this incident in scripture. Numerous women weep. Jesus speaks to some. Let Veronica stand for all the empathy in suffering offered by womenkind. They suffer in childbirth, in comparative physical weakness, in lack of political, social or judicial voice, in domestic abuse, in vocational handicap, in wayward children. It is more than likely that their hearts open with greater compassion to the images of Calvary.