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Pilgrims Pack Jerusalem for Good Friday Procession


Christians carry crosses inside the Church of the Holy Sepulcher during a Good Friday procession in Jerusalem's Old City, Apr 22 2011

Christians carry crosses inside the Church of the Holy Sepulcher during a Good Friday procession in Jerusalem's Old City, Apr 22 2011

Thousands of Christian pilgrims packed the narrow, cobblestone alleyways of Jerusalem's Old City for the traditional Good Friday procession. They retraced the footsteps of Jesus on the Via Dolorosa, or Way of Sorrows, to the 14 Stations of the Cross.

It was a huge crowd this year because the Eastern Orthodox and Western churches are observing Good Friday on the same day.

Some rare spring showers did not dampen the spirits of the faithful, who came from all over the world. Mark Billings is from Chicago in the United States.

"To be here, to know that Christ was here, that this is the place where He ministered and taught many, it really is very meaningful for me," said Billings.

Maaza Las Yohannes came from the Ethiopian capital of Addis Ababa. She said Jerusalem on Good Friday is an experience of a lifetime.

"It's so awesome; you see everything was in the Word of God, we read it, but now we practice it," said Yohannes. "We have seen it in our eyes; so it is so wonderful, I have no words to tell you."

The Old City was also packed with Israelis from around the country, marking the weeklong Feast of Passover. Alan Tabak said visiting Jerusalem on Passover is a biblical tradition.

"You could say it's a pilgrimage. You know, we have a duty to be here as Jews," Tabrak said. "And that's what we're doing, you know, just elevating a prayer and wishing for the best, and peace and hope, and coming here in good faith."

Back on the Via Dolorosa, Israeli police and soldiers guarded the route as pilgrims made their way to the Church of the Holy Sepulcher, the traditional site of Jesus' crucifixion. On Easter Sunday, in the same place, Christians will celebrate the resurrection.

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