Commemoration of Simon of Cyrene in the chapel of the Fifth Station of the Way of the Cross

Jerusalem, Fifth Station of the Way of the Cross, 2 April, 2012

Following tradition, between 6:00 and 8:00 a.m. on the morning of Holy Monday at the Fifth Station of the Way of the Cross, a little Franciscan chapel on the Via Dolorosa in the center of the Muslim Quarter of the Old City of Jerusalem, several Holy Masses in various languages are celebrated, one after the other. Small groups of Holy Land Christians, religious, and laity, along with some pilgrims, took part in the celebrations, animating the still dark and deserted streets in these early morning hours. For over a century, the Fifth Station has commemorated the meeting between Simon of Cyrene and Jesus, and the Roman soldiers’ compelling Simon to carry the Lord’s cross. It is a site very dear to Christians, especially to those of the Eastern rites. It is probable that in ancient times commemoration was made at a site a few meters away. Along the wall of the Via Dolorosa, near the Franciscan chapel, there is also a stone that, according to a tradition that is hard to verify, preserves an imprint of the hand of Jesus, who leaned on it while carrying the cross. In this chapel, therefore, continuing the pilgrimages the Franciscans have been making throughout Lent, touching the places of Christ’s Passion, they gather on Holy Monday, to join together in prayerful celebration of the Cyrenean, and the gospel recounting of the story that associates him with Jesus as the disciple who shared the cross.

At the same time, at Calvary in the Basilica of the Holy Sepulchre, a Holy Mass was celebrated in Arabic, with the participation of several religious and a small group of the local faithful.

Text by Caterina Foppa Pedretti
Photos of the Holy Mass at the Fifth Station by Marie-Armelle Beaulieu
Photos of the Holy Mass at Calvary by Stefano Dal Pozzolo

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