Thousands of Christians in the Holy Land have taken part in Easter Sunday services that began at sunrise to mark the resurrection of Jesus.

Before dawn on Sunday, a long line of pilgrims from all over the world formed outside the Garden Tomb in Jerusalem.

This is one of two sites revered by Christians as the place where Jesus was laid to rest, before conquering death and miraculously reappearing to his followers 2,000 years ago.

When the large crowd filled the open-air sanctuary containing a tomb carved into a stone wall, the shrine's general-secretary, Peter Wells, gave this greeting: "Thank you for coming to celebrate with us the best news ever announced in Jerusalem, that the tomb is empty, for Jesus is gloriously alive. "The Lord is risen!" he said.

According to the scriptures, women were among the first to meet Jesus after his resurrection. This recounting of the events was underlined by a reading from the Gospel of John by Meg Jack, a prominent supporter of the Garden Tomb.

"Mary Magdalene went to the disciples with the news, 'I have seen the Lord,' and she told them Jesus had said these things to her. Amen," said Ms. Jack.

The sermon was delivered by the chairman of the Garden Tomb Association, Victor Jack, who told the worshipers that Easter Sunday is to be marked as a day of rejoicing.

"We have come, not to commemorate a martyr's death, but to celebrate our Lord's victory over Satan and the grave," he said.

The crowd seemed to be in one accord with this message, as their joyful praise reverberated across the streets, outside Jerusalem's walled Old City.