What Is the Via Dolorosa?

Learn Why Jesus Christ Endured the Way of Suffering

Via Dolorosa
Lior Mizrahi / Stringer / Getty Images

Via Dolorosa in Latin means the "way of suffering" or "way of sorrows."

This traditional route through the Old City of Jerusalem retraces the steps of Jesus Christ  as he was led to the cross.  It begins where Christ was condemned to death by Pilate at the Praetorium, continues to Calvary where our Lord was crucified, and ends at the tomb of Christ's burial

Fourteen holy sites, or "stations of the cross," exist along the path for pilgrims to mark the journey of Christ's final hours of suffering.

Much controversy over the authenticity of these sites has existed since the Via's origin during the time of the Crusaders.  Today, the main route of the Via Dolorosa follows the path of the early Byzantine pilgrims.

Is Via Dolorosa in the Bible?

The term Via Dolorosa is not found in the Bible, and for most Christians strict accuracy of the locations is unimportant. Rather, the path of suffering is a way to remember and reflect on the tremendous price our Lord Jesus Christ paid for our salvation.

This path can be symbolically marked through the Scriptures: Our Lord was abandoned, betrayed, arrested, accused and condemned to die. He was spit on, tortured beyond recognition, pierced with a crown of thornsmocked, and made to carry his cross. His hands and feet were then nailed to the cross, where he died one of the most horrible and cursed forms of death.

He endured all of this so that our sins might be forgiven:

Yet it was our weaknesses he carried; it was our sorrows that weighed him down. And we thought his troubles were a punishment from God, a punishment for his own sins! But he was pierced for our rebellion, crushed for our sins. He was beaten so we could be whole. He was whipped so we could be healed. (Isaiah 53:4-5, NLT)

Personally, whenever I hear the term Via Dolorosa, my mind returns to the moving lyrics of this song by Sandi Patty:

Via Dolorosa Lyrics

Down the Via Dolorosa in Jerusalem that day
The soldiers tried to clear the narrow street
But the crowd pressed in to see
A Man condemned to die on Calvary
He was bleeding from a beating
There were stripes upon His back
And He wore a crown of thorns upon His head
And He bore with every step
The scorn of those who cried out for His death
Down the Via Dolorosa, called the way of suffering
Like a lamb came the Messiah, Christ the King,
But He chose to walk that road out of His love
For you and me
Down the Via Dolorosa, all the way to Calvary
The blood that would cleanse the souls of all men
Made its way to the heart of Jerusalem.
Down the Via Dolorosa called the way of suffering
Like a lamb came the Messiah, Christ the King
But He chose to walk that road out of His love
For you and me

Down the Via Dolorosa, all the way to Calvary

(Sources:  The Eerdmans Bible Dictionary, Myers, A. C. (1987), Grand Rapids, MI: Eerdmans; GotQuestions.com; "Via Dolorosa," Songs From the Heart (1990), Sandi Patty, lyrics by Borop III, Niles A./Sprague, Billy.)

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Fairchild, Mary. "What Is the Via Dolorosa?" ThoughtCo, Jan. 28, 2016, thoughtco.com/what-is-the-via-dolorosa-700751. Fairchild, Mary. (2016, January 28). What Is the Via Dolorosa? Retrieved from https://www.thoughtco.com/what-is-the-via-dolorosa-700751 Fairchild, Mary. "What Is the Via Dolorosa?" ThoughtCo. https://www.thoughtco.com/what-is-the-via-dolorosa-700751 (accessed December 11, 2017).