Thousands of Christian pilgrims from around the world poured into the Holy City of Jerusalem under sunny skies on Friday to pray along the traditional route they believe Jesus took to his crucifixion.
As part of the Good Friday ceremonies, the Christian faithful descend onto the twisted cobblestoned streets of Jerusalem’s Old City to walk along the Via Dolorosa, or Way of Suffering.
Christians believe it is along this route that Jesus carried the cross on which he was later crucified by the Romans.
The Good Friday procession begins at the Monastery of Flagellation, where Jesus was beaten, mocked and crowned with thorns, according to their belief.
The procession follows the narrow often climbing street and the Stations of the Cross along its way, where Jesus met his mother, fell several times, was helped in carrying with the cross, and met the holy women of Jerusalem, among others.
The procession ends at the Church of the Holy Sepulchre, built over the sites where Christians believe Christ was crucified and buried.
The Christians making their way up Via Dolorosa mingled with Muslims getting ready for the midday prayers at the Dome of the Rock compound and Jews clad in black suits and hats hurrying to the Wailing Wall to recite the prayers of the Passover holiday.
Each year, thousands of Christians flock to tread the route that is based on a devotional walk first laid out by the Roman Catholic Church’s Franciscan order in the 14th century.
The Christian Gospels teach that on the third day after he was crucified, Jesus rose from the dead. That event is commemorated by Easter, the most important day of the church year to most Christians.
Catholics and other Christians in the West celebrate Easter on a different date each year than do Orthodox Christians. Latin Christians will celebrate Easter this Sunday, April 12, with the Orthodox Easter coming a week later.
As the faithful arrive at the Holy Sepulchre church, representatives from the two Muslim families that have kept keys to it since the 13th century open its doors to them.
Israeli police deployed reinforcements in the Old City, which Israel illegally annexed in the 1967 Six Day War.
(Agencies and PC)