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Christian Pilgrims Celebrate Easter in Jerusalem


Thousands of Christian pilgrims converged on Jerusalem for Easter Sunday celebrations marking the biblical resurrection of Jesus Christ.

Easter celebrations began with a sunrise service at the Garden Tomb, where Christians sang hymns of the resurrection. The garden, with its ancient tomb carved in a rock, is said to resemble the place where Jesus was buried, based on biblical accounts.

Other Christians celebrated Easter at the Church of the Holy Sepulcher in Jerusalem's Old City. Priests and monks in festive white robes marched around the ancient stone tomb believed by Christians to be place where Jesus rose from the dead. Pilgrims looked on in a fragrant cloud of incense.

"It's wonderful. And certainly there are times of emotion when it hits you that you are walking where Christ walked, and where a lot of the stories that we all know, happened," Bob Pasha, who came from U.S. state of Montana.

Jerusalem was awash with religious activity.

Orthodox Christians celebrated Palm Sunday, crowding into the Holy Sepulcher and other churches. And thousands of Jews were in the Old City to celebrate the biblical, week-long holiday of Passover.

Pasha says that is what makes Jerusalem special.

"The most impressive thing here that I enjoy is watching all the different mix of religion and culture that's here all in one spot, all for the same reason-coming from different angles but all for the same reason: to worship God," he said.

Easter also brought an olive branch. Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas called Israel's new Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu for the first time, offering Passover greetings and a wish for peace.

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