Christians are celebrating Palm Sunday, marking the beginning of Easter Holy Week.
Priests in festive robes led a colorful Palm Sunday procession at the Church of the Holy Sepulcher in Jerusalem’s Old City. They were followed by pilgrims waving palm and olive branches in a fragrant cloud of incense. The celebrants marched around the ancient stone tomb where tradition says Jesus rose from the dead.
Palm Sunday marks Jesus’ Triumphal Entry into Jerusalem on a donkey 2,000 years ago. It is the beginning of Holy Week, which culminates in Easter Sunday when Christians celebrate the resurrection.
Pilgrims came to the Holy City from all over the world, including Christine Barlow from the U.S. state of Utah.
“It is a really cool experience being in such a cultural place on such an important day," she said. "Being here just really solidifies my faith in the events that occurred, and being in the land that it happened in, it is fun.”
Ben Forland is from Norway.
“I feel blessed. I think it has to do with some kind of closeness to history. This is where things happened. So, so far it has been extremely fascinating,” he said.
It is a big turnout this year because the Eastern Orthodox and Western churches, which observe different calendars, are celebrating Holy Week at the same time. Visitors to the Holy Sepulcher are also getting to see something special: Jesus’ tomb has been renovated for the first time in 200 years.