In the Middle Ages, pilgrims to Jerusalem identified with Christ's journey as He dragged His massive cross toward the crucifixion. TheVia Dolorosahas been traditionally recognized as the route of the cross - the road He traveled while enacting the twelve ritual occurrences or "stations of the cross". Recently I had the opportunity to visitVia Dolorosaand set up my easel at the very spot commemorating where Christ received His crown of thorns. The sweeping arches you see in the mid-distance date back to the Roman era and provide an historic link to the early era of the Christian church.
In addition to being a spiritual landmark for Christians, theVia Dolorosais also a modern street in the Arab section of the old city. As I worked, small Arab children gathered about me and at one point playfully pelted me with pebbles. Happily, Arab shopkeepers immediately came to my rescue and chased off the pint-sized intruders. I later bought a decorative tile from one of my rescuers as a small gesture of thanks.