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ordering him to be attached to a cross. A feeling of equity for a moment pervaded his mind : he called for water, washed his hands in public, and exclaimed : “ I am innocent of the blood of this just person,” and, almost at the same moment, seeing nothing but danger in resistance to the popular fury, and by a contradiction the more disgraceful, he pronounced sentence of death, and delivered up that “just person" to be crucified.
The hall where Christ was scourged is now a most filthy place, opposite to the ruins of the Pretorium and in the same street. Scarcely is there to be seen in it a spot on which the knee can rest. Part of the pillar to which Jesus was bound is in the church of the Franciscan Fathers of the Holy Sepulchre, protected by an iron grating; and you are not allowed to touch it but with a stick of copper. It is exhibited to the veneration of the pious only once a year, on the evening of Good Friday.
In the basement of the Pretorium is a hall, in very good preservation. Here it was that the soldiers threw a robe over the shoulders of Jesus and crowned him with thorns. While the divine Saviour was exposed to their mockery and insults, he was supported by a fragment of a column, now preserved in a chapel of the church of the Holy Sepulchre, of which I have already made mention to you, and which belongs to the Armenians. This fragment, as well as the chapel, is known by the name of Impropère, that is, insults, outrages.
The arcade of the Ecce Homo was formerly part of a very spacious porch. Above, there has been built a kind of gallery, closed on one side by a wall, in which have been made some very small apertures. In the opposite
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wall is a window, at which, according to some, Jesus was obliged to appear when Pilate presented him to the people. I am of opinion, with some others, that the gallery was then entirely open.
Now, my dear friend, come along with me to the Road of the Cross : let us explore that sacred road together, and let thoughts of grief, repentance, gratitude, and love, thoughts which the great sacrifice of our Redeemer devoting himself, dying for us, ought to render ever present to our minds as well as to our hearts, accompany our steps.
Originally, the Road of the Cross was divided into twelve stations; now there are reckoned fourteen, because that of the taking down from the cross and that of the Holy Sepulchre have been added.
Nine of these stations are in the streets forming the Via Dolorosa, so that the pilgrim is obliged to refrain from all external signs of piety, if he would avoid the insults and outrages of which Turkish fanaticism is not sparing. I have sometimes ventured to disregard this unworthy treatment; but I would not advise any one to imitate my temerity. On a way bordered exclusively by Turkish habitations, and frequented by all sorts of persons, it is better to confine one's self to an inward prayer than to provoke abuse and blasphemies. One day, before the house of St. Veronica, I suffered some demonstration of respect to escape me, and instantly a pot of water was flung over me from a window. The wisest thing I could do was not to say a word about it : I passed on in silence.
To satisfy their devotion in some trifling degree, most
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of the pilgrims seek to touch by stealth the object which marks the station, though frequently covered with spittle, and then to lay their hand upon their heart.
The first station in the Road of the Cross begins at the very spot where the last in the Way of the Captivity ends; that is, at the Lithostrotos, where Jesus was condemned to die upon the cross.
The Lithostrotos, called in Hebrew Gabbatha, was a terrace, or even a gallery, a kind of balcony paved with marble or stone, as its name indicates, from which Pilate pronounced the sentence of death. It was contiguous to the Pretorium. It is now inclosed in the residence of the Turkish governor. As the avenues to it are guarded by janissaries, you perform this first station at the porch of the Scala, situated in the lowest part of Jerusalem. Formerly, the pilgrims were allowed to go up to the arcade; according to some travellers, the places where Jesus stood when he was condemned, and where the Roman governor addressed the people when he passed sentence, were pointed out. “ The pilgrims who have the honour to ascend it,” says a writer of the time, “ fall on their knees before the first, and kiss it with great respect, but abhor and execrate the second as they would the seat of the plague.”
The second station is on the spot where Jesus, delivered up to his implacable enemies, was hurried away through a furious mob, loading him with imprecations, to be burdened with his cross, which he was to bear to Calvary. There is nothing to indicate the exact point of this station. After the example of other pilgrims, I held it about twenty paces from the first.
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To reach the third, you must pass under the arcade of the Ecce Homo. At the end of the street, turning to the left, near a Turkish bath you come to a prostrate column of red marble, which, according to tradition, marks the spot where our Saviour fainted for the first time under the weight of the instrument of his execution.
Forty paces farther, you enter a street which leads to the Via Dolorosa, in which there was formerly a church, known by the name of Notre Dame des Sept-Douleurs : this is the fourth station. On this spot it was that Mary, thrust back by the soldiers, met her son toiling under the weight of the ignominious wood on which he was about to die. Without making explicit mention of this meeting, the evangelists infer it in their narratives by showing us the blessed Virgin on Calvary, at the moment of the death of Jesus; and the tradition of it, which is still preserved, supported by the testimony of several great saints, dates from very high antiquity.
Sixty paces farther begins the fifth station, at the foot of the hill which leads to Golgotha. Here it was that Christ, exhausted by his long sufferings, stumbled ; and that the Jews, eager for his blood, stopped a Cyrenean, and forced him to bear the cross. “ And, as they led him away, they laid hold upon one Simon, a Cyrenean, coming out of the country, and on him they laid the cross, that he might bear it after Jesus.”
Proceeding about eighty paces, you come to the sixth station. It is the house of Veronica, or, more correctly speaking, the spot on which stood that house, the very ruins of which have disappeared, and on which is now seen the dwelling of a Greek family. You are shown the
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place where that heroic woman, forcing her way through the soldiers and the crowd which surrounded Jesus, and, throwing herself at his feet, wiped his distorted features, the impression of which was left upon the cloth which had touched the august face of the Saviour of the world.
About one hundred paces from the house of St. Veronica is the Judgment gate, through which malefactors passed who were to be executed on Calvary. This gate is walled up for half its height; behind, you can perceive the stone pillar on which the sentence of Pilate was posted. It is upright, and may be seen at a distance.
It is about eighty paces from the Judgment gate to the place where Jesus fell, for the second time, under the weight of his cross, which forms the seventh station. It is marked by an incision made in a stone in the wall.
From the Judgment gate to the top of Calvary, the ascent begins to be steeper.
The eighth station is about thirty fathoms from the preceding. It may be known by a thick column, placed before a doorway of mean appearance, and which is walled up. It was there that Christ spoke to the women of Jerusalem, who were shedding tears over his fate, and exhorted them to weep for themselves.
The way which formerly led to Calvary, and along which our Saviour passed, no longer exists; it is covered with houses, amidst which is the ninth station, likewise marked by a thick column, the approach to which Turkish fanaticism has taken delight to render disagreeable, by heaping up filth against it for the purpose of keeping off the Christians. To visit the holy hill, the pilgrim is obliged to follow a new way formed at the distance of