22 March 2018

The fifth stage of the Lenten pilgrimage recalls the journey of the Holy Cross

The celebration that recalled the condemnation of Christ took place on March 22 at the Lithostrotos, in the Chapel of Condemnation, located in the Monastery of the Flagellation.

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From Antonia Fortress to Calvary: this was the path of the Via Dolorosa, along which, according to tradition, Jesus walked, after being condemned in Pontius Pilate's palace, on the way to the place where the Church of the Holy Sepulcher stands today. The area occupied by the palace complex has undergone significant changes over the centuries. Currently, a portion of it is occupied by the Ecce Homo Convent, guarded by the Notre Dame de Sion congregation. The name of the convent refers to the words that Pilate pronounced presenting Christ to the crowd:

Notre Dame de Sion Congregation
"The greatest sign that this city bears on its stones, whether it be walls, ceilings or soil, is the sign of the faith of a people who, for over two thousand years, have believed in God who became flesh, who became a man. Jesus faced all of the same testings a man can experience, yet without sin. He even experienced death, so we could not be trapped in it. He died and rose again.”

In the museum that is located in the convent, you can actually touch history in the traces of Roman buildings. On the rocks, you can see signs of the Roman soldiers' recreational activities, in addition to the cistern that was used for water conservation. Furthermore, you can see the 'Ecce Homo' Arch, whose structure is mostly on the outside. A smaller section of the Arch is inside the chapel.

Thursday, March 22, in anticipation of Holy Week, participants arrived at the Fifth Stage of the Lenten pilgrimages, organized by the Custody of the Holy Land. The celebration took place in the Chapel of Condemnation, inside the Franciscan Monastery of the Flagellation. The journey included a day of preparation for the Week that precedes Easter and a reminder of the Via Crucis path.

Pontifical Lateran University
"When we think about Jesus being sentenced to death, we must actually remember that, at that precise moment, Jesus took our place: He took upon Himself a death sentence, which was reserved for us. The Bible says: "From His wounds we were healed" and this is precisely the place where Jesus becomes "one" with us, where He takes our place, to pay for our sins. This is why this is a special place: it is the place where Jesus meets His destiny in an official way, and where we, at our end, meet our salvation.”

Father Luigi Maria Epicoco, from the Pontifical Lateran University, is the preacher of this year's Lenten pilgrimages. In each meeting, each member is invited to take his own cross, in the certainty of the new life brought by Jesus.