Wife comforted by Holy Land trip, Via Dolorosa walk memories - Catholic Courier
The third station along the Via Dolorosa. The third station along the Via Dolorosa. (Photo courtesy of Leonor Rivera)

Wife comforted by Holy Land trip, Via Dolorosa walk memories

During Lent, Ed and I prayed the Stations of the Cross. After so many years of praying, we thought we knew the stations very well but walking the Via Dolorosa (painful way) in the Holy Land in March 2019 was like going from simple black and white to 3D, brilliant technicolor.

The Via Dolorosa is the path that Jesus followed from his condemnation to his crucifixion and burial in the tomb. The 14 Stations of the Cross are the stops along the Via Dolorosa. It runs through a busy, narrow area with stores and lots of people shopping. Our group of pilgrims maintained our reverence as if we were in the calm eye of the storm. Ed and I walked with our group, singing and stopping to pray at each station. We touched our left hands with our wedding bands on the stations as a way of renewing our wedding vows.

The stations were beautiful, unique and touching. Some had stunning statues, and others had little chapels of varying sizes. Each had a gray, concrete, dinner-plate-sized, thick marker with stamped Roman numerals. We kept looking at each other in awe, realizing that our feet were walking where Jesus’ feet touched this earth. We felt so grateful and humbled.

A colored-pencil drawing of Mary holding Jesus after he was taken down from the cross.

(Photo courtesy of Leonor Rivera)

That night, Ed and I talked about our incredible experience until Ed fell asleep. I was so excited, I couldn’t sleep. I slipped out of bed and used colored pencils and a pen to draw the Blessed Mother holding her son after he was brought down from the cross.

Looking at my drawing now brings back precious memories of our Holy Land trip. Those memories comfort me as I continue walking my Via Dolorosa. I walk with hope, looking forward to the Easter Resurrection and my joyful reunion with Ed.


Leonor “Leo” and Ed Rivera were members of the local Worldwide Marriage Encounter community for 32 of their 34 years of marriage until Ed unexpectedly died of a genetic heart defect on Aug. 1, 2020.

The 2023 Worldwide Marriage Encounter Weekends are April 14-16, Sept. 15-17 and Nov. 10-12. All weekends take place at Notre Dame Retreat House in Canandaigua.

To read more of Leo and Ed’s blogs, visit https://catholiccourier.com/viewpoints/blogs/to-have-and-to-hold.

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