We are, by now, in dire need of a drink. Mint tea for me, hot and fragrant. I retrace our steps on the map and paint the route we walked. I watch literally hundreds of people following our steps, the steps Jesus the Christ is supposed to have walked (some ten or maybe twenty metres below the pavement, bien entendu).
The route begins at the place where Jesus Christ was condemned to death by Pontius Pilate – note to myself: stop thinking of Bigus Dickus. Then it goes back to the flagellation place, where Jesus received thirty-nine lashes. Then it continues more or less in a straight line towards the place where Jesus fell for the first time; zigzags to where he met Myriam (I still don’t know if this Myriam is Mary Magdalene or Mother Mary; my mates, all Christian, don’t know either). Then it goes on to the place where Simon of Cyrene took the cross, to where Jesus met Veronica, and to where Jesus fell for the second time. Simon of Cyrene apparently didn’t carry the cross for very long.
The path goes up to where Jesus is said to have comforted the women of Jerusalem and afterwards retraced his steps, cross and all, to the place where he fell for the second time. And no wonder. The Way of Sorrows goes straight for a while and suddenly disappears; against all probabilities makes half an U-turn to nowhere in special – there Jesus fell for the third time, got up, retraced his steps again, and headed on, at last, straight to the Golgotha, where he was disrobed and crucified.
I’m still trying to make sense of this absolutely crazy Path of Grief, Way of Sorrows, Via Dolorosa. And it does not make sense. The crucifixion place is now in the Old City center; sometime it must have been outside the city walls.
I do not doubt a dissident rabbi would have been crucified by the Romans; crucifixion was a common capital punishment and anyone who knows anything about the old Romans knows they did crucify people, Spartacus and his army of rebel slaves being the most famous of them all – if only because Kirk Douglas made a wonderful job in the movie. But this Way… well, this way makes no sense, not even twenty metres below the pavement. And Romans didn’t conquer half Europe doing senseless things.
Anyway, we followed the Path; and if we had received thirty-nine lashes before the start and had to carry a heavy cross we would have been dead long before arriving to our final destination.