Middle East

Christian pilgrims march through Jerusalem for Good Friday

JERUSALEM (AP) — Thousands of Christian pilgrims and clergy members marched through the ancient stone alleys of Jerusalem’s Old City, retracing Jesus’ path to crucifixion in observation of Good Friday.

The faithful carried wooden crosses high on their shoulders and sang hymns to mark one of Christianity’s most solemn and sacred days.

The confluence of Good Friday and the Jewish holiday of Passover this year led to flocks of tourists and a festive atmosphere in the holy city.

Worshippers from all over the world marched slowly along the Via Dolorosa, the cobblestone path that cuts through the limestone-walled Old City, where tradition says Jesus bore the cross to his crucifixion. The pilgrims stopped at several points on the way, re-enacting symbolic moments from Jesus’ story.

The procession culminates at the Church of the Holy Sepulchre, where Catholic and Orthodox Christians believe Jesus was buried before his resurrection on what is celebrated as Easter Sunday.

Meanwhile Friday, Jewish residents were rushing to complete their preparations for the ritual Seder dinner as the first night of Passover approached. In Jerusalem’s Mahane Yehuda outdoor market, a tumult of shoppers swarmed the stalls, filling their bags with ingredients for the holiday feast. Many observant Jews cleaned their homes of “chametz,” or leavened wheat, traditionally forbidden during the eight days of Passover in commemoration of the Jewish people’s flight from slavery in Egypt, which didn’t allow time for dough to rise into bread.

The Chabad-Lubavitch movement, one of the world’s largest Jewish religious organizations, has arranged Passover seders in over 100 countries for Jews who seek them, even in some far-flung corners of the globe, such as Congo and rural Australia. At sundown, Jews will gather around dinner tables to retell the Passover story that celebrates their deliverance from slavery in Old Testament times.

Photo: Members of the ancient Samaritan community participates in the ritual of Passover Sacrifice on Mount Gerizim, overlooking the West Bank town of Nablus, Thursday, April 18, 2019. Samaritans descended from the ancient Israelite tribes of Menashe and Efraim but broke away from mainstream Judaism 2,800 years ago. Today, the remaining 700 Samaritans live in the Palestinian city of Nablus in the West Bank and the Israeli seaside town of Holon, south of Tel Aviv. (AP Photo/Nasser Nasser)

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