Via Dolorosa 754232

HISTORY OF GOOD FRIDAY For centuries pilgrims have walked the Via Dolorosa, “the way of sorrow” in Jerusalem, following the path Jesus took on Good Friday. Starting at the judgment seat of Pilate at the Antonia Fortress in the eastern part of the city immediately north of the Temple, the path follows 14 “Stations of…

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jerusalem temple 767413

HISTORY OF THE SANHEDRIN The Greek word Συνέδριον, sunedrion, means literally “sitting together” and is usually translated “council.” It is referred to in the New Testament as “the Great Law-Court,” “the Court of Seventy-One,” and “the rulers and elders and scribes.” It was the supreme theocratic court of the Jews. It reflected the local autonomy which…

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Palm Sunday 4 764484

HISTORY OF PALM SUNDAY The week we now call Holy Week or Passion Week, started with Palm Sunday. Why was this week so important that three of the gospel writers (Matthew, Mark, and Luke) devote a full third of their contents to reporting this week, and The Fourth Gospel (John) dedicates its entire last half? Jerusalem, which had a…

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herod antipas

HISTORY OF HEROD ANTIPAS Herod Antipas was the son of Herod the Great (whom we met in the Christmas story) and Malthake. After his father’s death in 4 B.C., Antipas was made tetrarch of Galilee and Peraea in the Trans-Jordan area of Palestine which he ruled as a client state of the Roman Empire. Like…

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Pilate Ecce Homo 774013

HISTORY OF PONTIUS PILATE The name Pontius Pilate provides two valuable clues to his background and ancestry. The family name, Pontius, was that of a prominent clan among the Samnites, hill cousins of the Latin Romans. They had almost conquered Rome in several fierce wars. The Pontii were of noble blood, but when Rome finally absorbed…

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Jerusalem sunset 782873

HISTORICAL CLIMATE OF EASTER What was the historical climate of Easter Week almost 2,000 years ago surrounding the last week of the life of Jesus of Nazareth? This was a man born to die, not just in the normal sense, but in some special sense. Jesus entered Jerusalem amidst a torrent of turbulence: religious, political,…

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st patrick

HISTORY OF ST. PATRICK’S DAY Although much of the life of the patron saint and Apostle of Ireland is shrouded in legend, St. Patrick was probably born around the year AD 389. Stories are told of the many contests Patrick had with Druids, pagans, and polytheists, as well as the well known but unlikely story…

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Ides of March

HISTORY OF THE IDES OF MARCH According to the ancient Roman calendar, the ides fell on the 13th of the month with the exception of the months March, May, July, and October, when it fell on the 15th of the month. Something epochal occurred in 44 B.C. Et tu, Brute? It was on March 15,…

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Mars

HISTORY OF MARCH The month that can come in “like a lion and out like a lamb” is named after Mars, the Roman god of war (and agriculture). March or Martius as it was known in ancient Rome is the first month of Spring and was considered a favorable season for travel, planting, or to begin…

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