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Christian Pilgrims Celebrate Easter in Jerusalem

A Christian pilgrim rests her head on an altar as she prays inside the church of the Holy Sepulcher, the site where many Christians believe Jesus Christ was crucified and buried, Jerusalem, April 24, 2011

Christians celebrated Easter on Sunday, marking the resurrection of Jesus Christ.

Easter celebrations in Jerusalem began at dawn with a sunrise service at the Garden Tomb. Worshipers sang hymns facing an ancient, empty tomb carved into a rock. The holy site is said to resemble the garden where Jesus was buried, according to biblical accounts. A sign on the tomb’s door says, "He is not here. He is risen."

The main Easter services took place at the Church of the Holy Sepulcher. Catholic priests and monks in festive robes celebrated Mass, as a fragrant cloud of incense rose above the ancient stone tomb believed to be the place where Jesus rose from the dead.

Tens of thousands of pilgrims came to Jerusalem for Easter, including John Bennett from Houston, Texas, in the United States.

"It is a special place in the hearts of all Christians all over the world. This is where the Messiah died, was buried and rose again. And it’s a wonderful experience to get here."

Freann Linecar came from Cardiff, Wales.

"It is the most amazing experience; it has brought so much of the Scripture to life for me. And being here with Christians from across the world really just makes me feel so excited that Christ is working in our land, in all the lands."

It was a big turnout this year because the Eastern Orthodox and Western Churches celebrated Easter on the same day.

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