2011
04.23

SYNOPSIS:

What’s happening at the Via Dolorosa and at the Church of the Holy Sepulchre in Jerusalem – a day spent with, guess who:  Aubrey, the Mountain Man from Egypt.

At 6:30 AM I joined the English/German Protestant congregation again to commemorate the Stations of the Cross along the Via Dolorosa (VD).  They started at the Lions’ Gate near the first station and for the next hour made their way all the way singing and praying back to the Church of the Redeemer next to the Holy Sepulchre (HS).   Even though the last five stations really should be commemorated directly at the HS, most people have to make do with some temporary signs posted along the way.  Unless you had a pass from the Greek Orthodox or any other church in charge of the many parts of the HS, you would not be able to go in until about 11 AM and then it would be a pushing and shoving event – no place for groups to engage in prayer, etc.

Going with the Protestants gave me an understanding of the Via Dolorosa, but it was not very exciting.  Protestants are way too reserved.  It was much more fun to observe more outgoing and devotional denominations throughout the day who made this journey carrying huge crosses along to reenact some of the story of the last few hours in the life of Christ.  Individual worshipers were also on their way wailing and crying.  The VD goes right through the Muslim quarters of the Old City.  You could see a lot of vendors seizing the moment and making a lot of money by selling overpriced olivewood crosses, VD brochures, folding chairs – and, I am told hundreds of thousands of diapers…

Several more exclusive events were held at the HS throughout the day – one is a mass by a church patriarch given from a great wooden platform in the center of the HS courtyard.  On Thursday, I saw the setup.  By the time I got back on Friday early morning, it had already happened – there is no way to find out from a central source what is going on these three days in Jerusalem.  Each church and denomination has their schedule and as a visitor without any affiliations, you have to take what comes your way.

Remember Aubrey, the Mountain Man who traveled with me and the Spirit Man Kasper for a couple of days down the Nile?  He arrived in Israel a while ago to cat-sit his uncle’s house somewhere North of Tel Aviv.  We connected today and roamed the Old City of Jerusalem together in search of good pictures of the various worship practices and faces associated with Easter.  It is amazing how many languages you hear in a ten-minute span and how many nationalities and colorful dresses you can observe in this city.

We finished the day with a visit to the Western Wall.  It was the Sabbath during Passover Week, one of the most holy days of the Jews coinciding with one of the most holy days of the Christians, not to mention that Friday is the holy day of the week for the Muslims in town as well.  The city was not only flooded with Christians, but entire Hassidic families carrying their Sabbath food to the Western Wall.

I will let the pictures speak for themselves.

Good night.

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