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Thousands Observe Good Friday on Jerusalem's Via Dolorosa

Robert Berger

Christians around the world are marking Good Friday, the day of Jesus' crucifixion. There was a big turnout for the traditional observance in Jerusalem, as we hear in this VOA report from Robert Berger who was on-scene.

Jerusalem's Old City was awash with Christian worshippers who joined in the Good Friday procession.

Four men have hoisted a big wooden cross on their shoulders as they lead a group of pilgrims down the narrow cobblestone streets here on the Via Dolorosa-the Way of Sorrows. They are among thousands of pilgrims retracing the footsteps of Jesus to the 14 Stations of the Cross. They have come from all over the world, including India, the Philippines and Poland.

John Lee came from the American state of Michigan.

"Well, it's incredible to be here where it all happened, where the Lord walked, to be seeing people from every nation and tribe and tongue coming back here, so many faith traditions, all walking the same road that He walked," he said.

Israeli troops armed with assault rifles guarded the route, but that didn't seem to faze the pilgrims. Lee told VOA that he felt safe in the Holy City.

"I feel like compared to some of the hometowns in Michigan, like Detroit, I would rather walk the streets of Jerusalem on an afternoon than some of the streets in Detroit. So I wouldn't say it's that much more dangerous than any other major city of the world," said Lee.

Hugh Speakman, who is from U.S. state of Colorado, saw the procession within the context of current events.

"It's nice to be here. Again, we remember the situation that is happening right now in the land, all the people, you know, on both sides that are suffering. So I think if Jesus were here today that's who he would be spending His time with-you know the Jewish people and the Palestinian people," said Speakman.

It was the best turnout in years thanks to a relative lull in violence and the fact that the calendars of the five major Christian denominations coincide this year.

The procession ended at the Church of the Holy Sepulcher, the traditional site of Jesus' crucifixion. On Easter Sunday, Christians will gather in the same church to celebrate the resurrection. 

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