First station of the cross – Via Dolorosa - Jesus Trial.
Jesus is brought to trial in front of the Roman Perfect, Pontius Pilates at the Pretorium, located at the Antonia Fortress. Today, this site is identified as the site of the school of Al-Omaria. During his sentence,Jesus was asked by Pontius Pilates if he is ‘’the king of the Jews’’ and replied: “You ha ve said it”(Mark 15, John 23).
Pontius, who had no basis for his accusation, attempted to transfer the trial to the governor of Galilee, Herod Antipas, since Jesus was originally from Galilee. Herod was unable to communicate with Jesus and returned him to Pontius (Luke 23).
Pontius suggested releasing either Jesus or a different prisoner awaiting for his trial, Bar Abba the Zealot, and the Jewish leaders decided to have Bar Abba released and Jesus crucified (Mark 15, Matthew 27).Prior to his trial, Jesus was brought for a hearing before The Sanhedrin, the group of elders, who sent him to the Roman representative of the time, Pontius Pilates at the Antonia Fortress. The Antonia Fortress was built on the ruins of a previous fortress named Barres by Herod the great, probably to commemorate his political patron Marcus Antonius.
The historian of the time, Jospehus Flavius described the magnificent fortress in words: “The Temple controls the city, The Antonia controls the temple and ye who controls the Antonia, controls the three of them“.The magnificent Antonia Fortress was destroyed by Titus’ soldiers during the destruction of the Temple Mount at the time of the great revolt in the year 70AD.
The Jews were exiled to different provinces of the Roman Empire and the city of Jerusalem would change through the centuries. Different compounds were built on top of the Antonia Fortresses ruins, including the current ‘The Al- O’Maria’ school for boys.The last, hardest path in the life of Jesus starts right here, where Jesus is condemned by Pilates at the Praetorium. ‘’They then led Jesus from the house of Caiaphas to the Praetorium’’ (John 18, 28).