JERUSALEM — Christians are celebrating Palm Sunday, the start of holy week.
Bells called the faithful to Palm Sunday prayers at the Church of the Holy Sepulcher in Jerusalem’s Old City, the traditional site of Jesus’ crucifixion and resurrection.
Palm Sunday marks the beginning of Easter Holy Week and Jesus’ entry into Jerusalem on a donkey more than 2,000 years ago.
Inside the church, worshippers waving palm and olive branches held a festive Palm Sunday procession around the ancient stone tomb revered by believers as the place where Jesus rose from the dead. They marched through a fragrant cloud of incense, chanting, “Hosanna, blessed is He who comes in the name of the Lord.”
Pilgrims came from around the world, including Miriam Akin of Nigeria. “Oh I feel great, I feel awesome, I feel elated," she exclaimed. "And I give all the glory to God for bringing us to this awesome place.”
Jane Reynolds from the U.S. state of Georgia said Palm Sunday in Jerusalem brings the Bible to life. “This is where Jesus actually went down that hill into the city. It just is amazing to me to think I am in the same spot, and to think that it really happened, and that it is not just black and white on the pages,” she said.
Jerusalem will host a flood of pilgrims this week as Easter week coincides with the Jewish Feast of Passover, which begins at sundown on Monday.