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Christian Pilgrims Celebrate Palm Sunday 

Palm Sunday celebrations took place in Jerusalem with thousands of pilgrims converging on the holy places.

Bells summoned the faithful to Palm Sunday prayers in Jerusalem's Old City as Easter Holy Week began.

A throng of pilgrims is marching with palm and olive branches, here in the Church of the Holy Sepulcher. Priests in red robes are leading the procession, as a cloud of incense engulfs the ancient stone tomb believed to be the site of Jesus' resurrection. Jerusalem is awash with pilgrims thanks to a lull in terrorism.

Kevin Drew, who came from the U.S. state of Kansas, told VOA that Jerusalem during Easter brings the Bible alive.

"It has always been a fantasy of mine to have a time machine and to be here when all this happened and this is as close as I can get," said Drew. "So it is a thrill and an honor and I am very lucky."

He said he feels as safe in Jerusalem as he does in Kansas.

"I would recommend any Christian, if they are able to get here, to get here," he added.

The highlight of the day's celebrations was the traditional Palm Sunday procession.

Thousands of pilgrims waving palm branches are retracing the path of Jesus triumphal entry into Jerusalem here on the Mount of Olives, with a magnificent view of the Old City below. Israeli police and soldiers are guarding the route, but the atmosphere is calm on a warm, sunny day.

There has been an upsurge in Israeli-Palestinian fighting on the Gaza border, but in Jerusalem, it was a peaceful start to Easter Holy Week.