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Pilgrims crowd Jerusalem's streets for #GoodFriday processions

Published Apr 14, 2017


Jerusalem - Muslims, Christians and Jews jostled in the narrow

streets of Jerusalem's Old City on Friday, corralled by police

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barricades, as the Good Friday processions slowly marched on.

Muslims on their way to the Al-Aqsa Mosque and Jews heading to the

Western Wall were held up in the crowded streets as thousands of

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Christian pilgrims commemorated the crucifixion of Jesus Christ by

walking along the Via Dolorosa, Latin for "Way of Sorrow."

Franciscan monks led the way on the annual procession down the route

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their predecessors had established in the 14th century. Pilgrims halt

at 14 stations, each marking an event that befell Christ as he

walked, carrying his cross, to his crucifixion.

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The final five stations are located inside the Church of the Holy

Sepulchre, a Crusaders' basilica said to be built on the spot where

Jesus was buried.

A group of men, surrounded by Arab Catholic Scouts, carried a heavy,

dark wooden cross on their shoulders, some sweating profusely in the

heat. Prayers in Latin blared from speakers.

After the Franciscan monks at the head of the Roman Catholic

procession had passed, Israeli police allowed onlookers to join the

march. Along the way, they bought small crosses from vendors hawking

their wares.

"God wanted me to come," said Renald Richer from Canada, who was

visiting Jerusalem for the first time. "I never wanted to come

before, I said: This place is crazy, the people are crazy."

Alexandra Josie, from New Jersey, is on a week-long trip to Israel

with her son. She said she'd found the cities she'd visited peaceful.

Orthodox and Protestant Christians marched through the streets

earlier in the day, with pilgrims in all manner of garb flooding the

Old City, carrying crosses of all sizes and speaking various


Protestant, Catholic and Orthodox believers are celebrating Easter

this year on the same date, a rare occurrence given that Western

churches mark the date according to the Gregorian calendar while

Eastern churches use the Julian.

The next time such an overlap will occur is in 2025, according to the

Greek Orthodox Church.

"I asked Mary [Jesus' biblical mother], and she told me to come to

Jerusalem," said Lena, a Russian Orthodox Christian in Jerusalem for

the first time. "God told me I must be on that flight to Jerusalem."

Lena, who had travelled to Jerusalem on her own with a tour group,

pulled out a pair of sticks that she said she used to ask God


"There will be many disasters this year in all of the world, in

America and Europe. People worldwide need to give glory to God," she

said, explaining why she had made the Good Friday trip.

According to Christian tradition, Jesus was crucified on Friday and

rose from the dead the following Sunday, when Easter is celebrated.

Jews, meanwhile, are celebrating the week-long festival of Passover,

which commemorates the Jewish people's exodus from Egypt.

The Israeli Tourism Ministry estimates that 79 500 Christian and

78 500 Jewish tourists will visit the country during their respective


Israeli police stepped up security amid the Jewish and Christian

holidays, with a wide range of units being put in action, according

to police spokesman Micky Rosenfeld.

Various checkpoints were set up across Jerusalem's Old City as

security officers redirected confused tourists and residents alike in

an attempt to maintain peace.


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