Jerusalem, the city of the historical

Praying the Way of the Cross in Jerusalem is a unique and special experience. Pilgrims from all over the world are given the opportunity to make a living memory of what Jesus lived in the last hours of His life, retracing His steps through those paths where everything began. 

The Way of the Cross, in the current sense of the term, dates to the Middle Ages. Pilgrimages began to reappear in the 12th century and the Franciscan Friars Minor have been permanently present in the "holy places" since 1233.

Today, those who visit Jerusalem can follow the route in 14 stations, from the place where, according to tradition, Jesus met Pontius Pilate to the last four stations, located in the church of the Holy Sepulchre, the sacred place of Jesus' death on the Cross and His resurrection.

Today you too are invited to walk this way in prayer. 

Lord Jesus Christ,
On your path to Jerusalem,
You wanted to tell your disciples no fewer than three times
That you were going to the Holy City
Where you would have been rejected, convicted and died,
But on the third day you would arise.
Along the path you also invited each and every one of us
To pick up our own cross and follow you,
You reminded us that a seed, to bear fruit,
Has to fall on to the ground and die
And thanks to you we understood that only those who offer their own lives
Will enter Life with you, 
The real, full and blessed life,
The eternal one and the one of eternal communion in love.
Help us to take your invitation seriously,
To learn to read everything in the light of Easter,
And to be able to follow in your footsteps
To make our lives a gift,
Together with you, with the Father and with the Holy Spirit
May you live and reign and be glorified,
Almighty God, for ever and ever.
R. Amen.


FIRST STATION
Jesus is condemned to death

Adoramus te, Christe, et benedicimus tibi, 
quia per sanctam crucem tuam redemisti mundum.

Pilate said to them, “Then what shall I do with Jesus called Messiah?” They all said, “Let him be crucified!” But he said, “Why? What evil has he done?” They only shouted the louder, “Let him be crucified!”
Then he released Barabbas to them, but after he had Jesus scourged,* he handed him over to be crucified. (Matt 27, 22-23. 26).


Lord Jesus,
You allowed yourself to be put on trial and judged like an evil-doer.
In this way too,
You take the evil and the injustice of the whole world on to yourself, 
As well as the evil and injustice present in my life 
And in that of every person.
Help us not to judge so that we are not judged either.
Help us not to wash our hands of injustice,
So that we do not also become accomplices of injustice and evil.
Help us to deliver into your hands 
Our injustice and the evil that we have done
To be made just by you, 
By your innocence and by your holiness.


SECOND STATION
Jesus accepts the cross

Adoramus te, Christe, et benedicimus tibi, 
quia per sanctam crucem tuam redemisti mundum.

Then the soldiers of the governor took Jesus inside the praetorium and gathered the whole cohort around him. They stripped off his clothes and threw a scarlet military cloak about him. Weaving a crown out of thorns, they placed it on his head, and a reed in his right hand. And kneeling before him, they mocked him, saying, “Hail, King of the Jews!” They spat upon him and took the reed and kept striking him on the head. And when they had mocked him, they stripped him of the cloak, dressed him in his own clothes, and led him off to crucify him. Matt 27, 27-31)

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Lord Jesus,
Inside us there nestles the tendency 
To persecute those who are weak and those who are wrong, 
But also those who seem too good or too holy to us.
Inside us, like the snake when someone steps on its tail, 
An immediate reaction is triggered off at the slightest wrong suffered, 
At the smallest word that hurts us, 
At what seems to lessen our image.
You bear and support: 
Those who mock and hit you, 
Those who flagellate you and coronate you with thorns, 
Those who insult you and disguise you as a mock king, 
Those who burden your shoulders with a cross which you certainly do not deserve.
You also bear and support each one of us, 
Our little faith, 
Our uncertain hope, 
Our intermittent ability to love.
You bear and support, 
And wish to give us not only the example, 
But also the grace and the ability to act like you.


THIRD STATION
Jesus falls for the first time

Adoramus te, Christe, et benedicimus tibi, 
quia per sanctam crucem tuam redemisti mundum.

Yet it was our pain that he bore, our sufferings he endured. We thought of him as stricken, struck down by God and afflicted, But he was pierced for our sins, crushed for our iniquity. He bore the punishment that makes us whole, by his wounds we were healed. (Isaiah 53, 4-5)

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Lord Jesus,
we know what it means to fall 
and we fall for many reasons,
sometimes we fall in a moment of distraction,
sometimes because a heavy burden has dragged us to the ground,
sometimes we fall because we trip against an obstacle
or because someone has tripped us up,
sometimes we put ourselves, deliberately and stupidly, 
in situations that will make us fall.
You fall under the overall weight of our falls 
And of the falls of the whole of humanity since Adam.
You fall to be able to take on what crushes us.
You fall to make us rise up again and give us back hope.
Thank you, Lord Jesus.


FOURTH STATION
Jesus meets his Mother

Adoramus te, Christe, et benedicimus tibi, 
quia per sanctam crucem tuam redemisti mundum.

Simeon blessed them and said to Mary his mother, “Behold, this child is destined for the fall and rise of many in Israel, and to be a sign that will be contradicted (and you yourself a sword will pierce)* so that the thoughts of many hearts may be revealed.” his mother kept all these things in her heart. (Luke 2, 34-35. 51)

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Lord Jesus,
Mary, your mother, had taken you to the temple in Jerusalem
When you were only a few days old, to present you to your Father,
A precocious prophecy of a life offered for love,
In which she herself took part.
Now she meets you on the way of the cross,
On the path of the full accomplishment of that prophecy,
Which will be the gift of love of your whole life,
Until the very last drop of blood,
Until the very last breath.
She who gave you life,
Is next to you at the time of giving life.
She who gave you life,
Is – now – next to each one of us
Our maternal support in giving life.


FIFTH STATION
Jesus is helped by the Cyrenian

Adoramus te, Christe, et benedicimus tibi, 
quia per sanctam crucem tuam redemisti mundum.

As they were going out, they met a Cyrenian named Simon; this man they pressed into service to carry his cross (Matt 27, 32).
Then Jesus said to his disciples, “Whoever wishes to come after me must deny himself,* take up his cross, and follow me.” (Matt 16, 24)

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Lord Jesus,
Simon the Cyrenian is not a volunteer
In giving you a hand to carry the cross,
He is a man obliged,
After the effort of a day spent in the fields,
It happens to us as well, sometimes,
The privilege of being called to carry with you 
The weight of the suffering of one of our similar,
At first maybe reluctantly
Because we have already had enough
Of our efforts and our own crosses,
Then gradually, discovering that it is a gift
To be able to cover this stretch of path with you,
Which will give a new meaning to our walking,
To our daily efforts,
To our giving life.


SIXTH STATION
Veronica wipes the face of Jesus

Adoramus te, Christe, et benedicimus tibi, 
quia per sanctam crucem tuam redemisti mundum.

He had no majestic bearing to catch our eye, no beauty to draw us to him.
He was spurned and avoided by men, a man of suffering, knowing pain, Like one from whom you turn your face,
spurned, and we held him in no esteem. (Is 53, 2-3)

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Lord Jesus,
In the face and in the eyes of every man
There is the essence of his soul 
And the synthesis of his life.
In your life and in your eyes,
The face and the eyes of the invisible God,
Injured and dirty with dust and blood is circumscribed,
To radiate on us mercy and peace.
To Veronica you gave
Your first and real image
To be worshipped in an existential form,
To let us recreate ourselves
In your image as well.


SEVENTH STATION
Jesus falls for the second time

Adoramus te, Christe, et benedicimus tibi, 
quia per sanctam crucem tuam redemisti mundum.

For we do not have a high priest who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses, but one who has similarly been tested in every way, yet without sin. (Hebrews 4, 15)

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Lord Jesus,
What does being charitable and sharing mean?
You have shown us:
It means lowering yourself to our human condition,
Experiencing and feeling what we feel,
In our humanity and fragility,
in everything and for everything,
completely,
except sin.
It is your lowering yourself that raises us,
It is your becoming small that reveals our real greatness,
It is your falling that lifts us up us from all our falls,
Including sin.
Thank you, Lord Jesus.


EIGHTH STATION
The women of Jerusalem weep for Jesus

Adoramus te, Christe, et benedicimus tibi, 
quia per sanctam crucem tuam redemisti mundum.

A large crowd of people followed Jesus, including many women who mourned and lamented him. Jesus turned to them and said, “Daughters of Jerusalem, do not weep for me; weep instead for yourselves and for your children, for indeed, the days are coming when people will say, ‘Blessed are the barren, the wombs that never bore and the breasts that never nursed … if these things are done when the wood is green what will happen when it is dry?” (Luke 23, 27-29. 31)

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Lord Jesus,
So many mothers continue to cry
For themselves and their children,
According to your prophecy,
In countries devastated by war, by injustice and by hunger,
But also in those which are just as devastated
By the mirage of artificial paradises
And the culture of waste.
Comfort these mothers who are too many 
Who now have no tears left,
So that they can once again be the ones to comfort.
And give to each one of us a maternal heart
To restore humanity to this world of ours.


NINTH STATION
Jesus falls for the third time

Adoramus te, Christe, et benedicimus tibi, 
quia per sanctam crucem tuam redemisti mundum.

“Come to me, all you who labour and are burdened,* and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am meek and humble of heart” (Matt 11, 28-29).

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Lord Jesus,
The third fall is the one that shows a glimpse of the destination 
And this way you remind us that it does not matter
How many times we fall
But how many times we let you lift us up again
To walk in your footsteps until the end,
Until the second when everything is accomplished, together with you.
You put us back on our feet,
We start walking again,
Perhaps we will fall again,
But once again you encourage us to get up
To climb the Holy Mountain
Where everything is accomplished, together with you.
Thank you Lord Jesus.


TENTH STATION
The soldiers share the robes of Jesus

Adoramus te, Christe, et benedicimus tibi, 
quia per sanctam crucem tuam redemisti mundum.

When the soldiers had crucified Jesus, they took his clothes and divided them into four shares, a share for each soldier. They also took his tunic, but the tunic was seamless, woven in one piece from the top down. So they said to one another, “Let’s not tear it, but cast lots for it to see whose it will be,” in order that the passage of scripture might be fulfilled They divided my garments among them, and for my vesture they cast lots.” (John 19, 23-24)

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Lord Jesus,
The first man, created in your image and resemblance,
Was naked in the Garden of Eden and shameless,
Until the day when you had to give him a robe
To protect him from fear and his fragility.
Now you come undressed,
It is a gesture that shows the desire to humiliate yourself
And be deprived of your dignity.
Yet, you undress yourself
To clothe each one of us with new robes,
Of your tunic woven in a single piece,
Of a dignity that we have not deserved 
And that nobody can any longer tear from us.


ELEVENTH STATION
Jesus is nailed on to the cross

Adoramus te, Christe, et benedicimus tibi, 
quia per sanctam crucem tuam redemisti mundum.

When they came to the place called the Skull, they crucified him and the criminals there, one on his right, the other on his left. Then Jesus said, “Father, forgive them, they know not what they do.” They divided his garments by casting lots. 
Now one of the criminals hanging there reviled Jesus, saying, “Are you not the Messiah? Save yourself and us.” The other, however, rebuking him, said in reply, “Have you no fear of God, for you are subject to the same condemnation? And indeed, we have been condemned justly, for the sentence we received corresponds to our crimes, but this man has done nothing criminal. Then he said, “Jesus, remember me when you come into your kingdom. He replied to him, “Amen, I say to you, today you will be with me in Paradise.” (Luke 23,33-43)

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Lord Jesus,
Remember me when you are in your Kingdom 
And make the doors of your Paradise open today for me as well,
For me who still bear the wounds of sin,
For me who still struggles to trust and entrust myself,
For me who would like to come down from the cross
Instead of remaining there, rightly, next to you.
Lord Jesus,
Continue to intercede for us sinners,
Who do not even know what we are doing,
And ask the Father 
Who receiving the offer of your life,
Brings down on our unconscious humanity
His pity and his forgiveness.


TWELFTH STATION
Jesus dies on the cross

Adoramus te, Christe, et benedicimus tibi, 
quia per sanctam crucem tuam redemisti mundum.

After this, aware that everything was now finished, in order that the scripture might be fulfilled, Jesus said, “I thirst.” There was a vessel filled with common wine. So they put a sponge soaked in wine on a sprig of hyssop and put it up to his mouth. When Jesus had taken the wine, he said, “It is finished.” And bowing his head, he handed over the spirit.
But when they [the soldiers] came to Jesus and saw that he was already dead, they did not break his legs, but one soldier thrust his lance into his side, and immediately blood and water flowed out.” (John 19, 28-30.33-34)

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Lord Jesus,
When you ask to drink
It is because you want to quench our thirst.
You had already said this to the Samaritan woman.
Now that everything is fulfilled,
Now that you are about to complete the meaning of the story,
Now that your incarnation is reaching its end,
Now that a new spring is opening for us,
From your side water and blood flow out,
A river that purifies, quenches and heals;
An open spring that will continue to flow
For the whole of eternity
And make Golgotha the heart of Celestial Jerusalem.


THIRTEENTH STATION
Jesus is taken down from the cross

Adoramus te, Christe, et benedicimus tibi, 
quia per sanctam crucem tuam redemisti mundum.

There were many women there, looking on from a distance, who had followed Jesus from Galilee, ministering to... When it was evening, there came a rich man from Arimathea named Joseph, who was himself a disciple of Jesus. He went to Pilate and asked for the body of Jesus; then Pilate ordered it to be handed over. (Matt 27, 55. 57-58)

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Lord Jesus,
Your inert body has come down from the cross,
While you eternal and immortal Verb
Descends into the abyss of death.
Joseph, Nicodemus and the women
Hastily recompose your lifeless limbs
While you eternal and immortal Verb 
Are already beginning to awaken from death
The humanity of the origins and the whole of creation.
Death seems to have prevailed,
But you eternal and immortal Verb
Divine seed buried in our story
Is already sprouting.


FOURTEENTH STATION
Jesus is laid in the tomb

Adoramus te, Christe, et benedicimus tibi, 
quia per sanctam crucem tuam redemisti mundum.

Taking the body, Joseph wrapped it in clean linen and laid it in his new tomb that he had hewn in the rock. Then he rolled a huge stone across the entrance to the tomb and departed. But Mary Magdalene and the other Mary remained sitting there, facing the tomb. (Matt 27, 59-61)

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Lord Jesus,
For nine months the womb of Mary held you,
When you crossed the threshold
Which separated eternity from time
And you became flesh.
Now for three days the womb of the tomb holds you,
Before you cross for ever 
The threshold that separates this mortal life of ours
From the fullness of living in God
To be reborn in Him
For ever
All our humanity.
We lay on the bare stone,
Next to your lifeless body,
Our human dying as well
Every anguish, fear and turmoil,
Every tear and cry.
And we keep vigil in silence.


Let us place ourselves ideally inside the Edicule of the Holy Sepulchre in Jerusalem, in the place which physically received the body of Jesus from the evening of Good Friday until Easter morning, and saw him pass from death to resurrection. Let us dwell for a few seconds in silence in adoration. Then let us pray : 


Lord Jesus,
I place my hands and forehead
On this marble blanket
Which covers and preserves the rock
On which your body for three days
Felt the human experience
Of our laying down life and dying,
Delivered to the supreme mystery.

I know that here you crossed the threshold
To enter the darkness of nothing,
In the anguish of living for just
The short day of grass,
In our destiny of death.

I know that here, between the night and dawn,
Eternal yeast in time,
You have dissolved death for ever,
To finally take us back to the Father,
Who is the womb and haven of all.

I lay my hands and forehead
On this marble blanket,
I kneel and kiss the stone
And feel that here I can believe, 
That I can trust and entrust myself 
That here I can draw on the hope of eternity 
In love that is stronger than death.
Amen.


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