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Thousands of Pilgrims Mark Good Friday in Jerusalem


Christians in Jerusalem are observing Good Friday. Robert Berger was in the midst of the faithful in Old Jerusalem and filed this VOA report.

Thousands of pilgrims from around the world crowded the narrow cobblestone streets of Jerusalem's walled Old City for the traditional Good Friday procession. Some of them carried large wooden crosses on their shoulders as they walked along the Via Dolorosa, the Way of Sorrows, the route that Jesus is believed to have taken to his crucifixion.

They visited the 14 Stations of the Cross on a warm and sunny spring day, singing hymns, praying and reading passages from the Gospels.

"Being in Jerusalem is like being in the exact place where everything happened, getting to imagine as best as we can, being on the ground that Jesus walked on, where he died on the cross and was risen for our sins," said Jila Sadihi, who came from the U.S. state of Texas. "And it's absolutely amazing. I'm very blessed to be here."

Israeli troops armed with assault rifles guarded the route, a reminder of the constant threat of terrorism. Two weeks ago, a Palestinian gunman shot and killed eight young Israeli students at a Jewish seminary in Jerusalem.

But Carolyn Eden of the midwestern state of Illinois said she feels as safe in Israel as she does back home in the U.S.

"I'm not worried about it; there's quite a bit of security," she said. "I don't walk in south Chicago at night and here I just watch where I go too and see that there's good security, and I'm not worried about safety at all."

The Good Friday procession ended at the Church of the Holy Sepulcher, where tradition says Jesus was crucified and his body laid in a tomb. It is there, on Easter Sunday, that Christians will celebrate his resurrection.

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