|Vol. 109: Passion|
I first learned after seeing the film The Passion of the Christ directed by Mel Gibson that aside from denoting strong emotion, the word “passion” also refers to the sufferings of Jesus Christ.
This film depicts the last 12 hours in the life of Jesus with an extraordinary degree of realism. The portrayal of events up to the crucifixion, including Jesus walking the path to Golgotha bearing his cross after being sentenced, was so vivid that it seemed as if I could almost feel the pain of the scourging myself.
The path that Jesus walked, called Via Dolorosa (Latin for the “way of sorrow”), has now turned into somewhat of a tourist spot, with souvenir stands crowding both sides of the narrow, stone-paved pathway. Most of the 14 Stations of the Cross, marking spots where events of the Passion are said to have occurred, are located on this path and indicated by signs along the way. The sixth station is where, according to tradition, a woman known as Veronica wiped the face of Jesus with her veil. It is now the site of the Church of St. Veronica. One can see the letters “VI STATIC” on the door of the church.
Pilgrims try to experience or reenact for themselves the Passion by retracing the footsteps of Jesus along these stations. One can speculate that the spread of Christianity throughout the world today owes much to the cruelty of the Passion.