Via Crucis, The Way of the Cross, gathered about 20,000 people around Helsinki centre on the night of Good Friday.

The ecumenical passion play, which is based on a medieval church tradition, follows Jesus’ last moments on his way to crucifixion.

The play was arranged for the 21st time, and especially during the past years, different playwrights and directors have aimed to modernise Via Crucis to reflect our modern times.

This year the play, which was written by Veli-Pekka Hänninen and directed by Ville Saukkonen, followed the five wounds of our times: measuring everything with money, feeling insignificant, fear, injustice and denying of death.

Fear was one of the major themes and the play aimed to raise thoughts in the minds of spectators . . . can an individual conquer fear?

Actor Kai Vaine, who is known from the Finnish soap opera Salatut Elämät (Secret Lives), played Jesus for the first time.

Via Crucis started 21:30 and followed a route from Kaisaniemi Park to the Bank of Finland and from there to the Senate Square and up the stairs of Helsinki Cathedral, where Jesus was crucified about 23:00.

Last year Via Crucis gathered about 15,000 spectators.

Pinja Hahtola plays Judas. Picture: Tony Öhberg for Finland Today

Pinja Hahtola plays Judas. Picture: Tony Öhberg for Finland Today

Modernised soldiers. Picture: Tony Öhberg for Finland Today

Modernised soldiers. Picture: Tony Öhberg for Finland Today

A soldier places the crown of thorns on Jesus' (Kai Vaine) head. Picture: Tony Öhberg for Finland Today

A soldier places the crown of thorns on Jesus’ (Kai Vaine) head. Picture: Tony Öhberg for Finland Today

Jesus starts his way to crucifixion. Picture: Tony Öhberg for Finland Today

Jesus starts his way to crucifixion. Picture: Tony Öhberg for Finland Today

The steps of Helsinki Cathedral are steep and tedious. Picture: Tony Öhberg for Finland Today

The steps of Helsinki Cathedral are steep and tedious. Picture: Tony Öhberg for Finland Today

 

Jesus at the cross. Picture: Tony Öhberg for Finland Today

Jesus at the cross. Picture: Tony Öhberg for Finland Today

 

The spectators are captivated. Picture: Tony Öhberg for Finland Today

The spectators are captivated. Picture: Tony Öhberg for Finland Today

 

The final moments. Picture: Tony Öhberg for Finland Today

The final moments. Picture: Tony Öhberg for Finland Today

 

The play ends. Picture: Tony Öhberg for Finland Today

The play ends. Picture: Tony Öhberg for Finland Today

 

Sirkka JR, 5, and her grandmother, Sirkka Pykälä, from eastern Helsinki, observed Via Crucis for the third time. "It's such a sad and dramatic play that we just had to come again," the grandmother said.

Sirkka JR, 5, and her grandmother, Sirkka Pykälä, from eastern Helsinki, observed Via Crucis for the third time. “It’s such a sad and dramatic play that we just had to come again,” the grandmother said.

 

Via Crucis is arranged by Ristin Tien Tuki ry.