JERUSALEM(AFP) – Tens of thousands of Christian pilgrims marched Friday along the narrow alleys of Jerusalem’s Old City on the path that tradition holds Jesus carried the cross on the way to his crucifixion.
The pilgrims were marking Good Friday by walking from the Monastery of the Flagellation along the route now known as the Via Dolorosa or Way of Suffering to the Church of the Holy Sepulchre.
Filipinos, Indians, Spaniards and Sri Lankans were among those who took part in the procession through the Stations of the Cross under the watch of thousands of Israeli police.
Roman Catholic and Protestant Churches celebrate Easter this weekend but for the Orthodox Churches Easter Sunday falls on May 5.
Israeli security forces have been deployed to protect the pilgrims as Palestinian demonstrators emerge from the main weekly Muslim prayers ahead of “Land Day” commemorations, an Israeli police spokeswoman told AFP.
Land Day is held every year to mark the deaths of six Arab Israeli protesters at the hands of Israeli police and troops during mass demonstrations in 1976 against plans to confiscate Arab land in Galilee.
Many Jews were also present in the Holy City for the Passover, or Pesach, when they commemorate the Exodus of the biblical Israelites from captivity in Egypt.
Jesus was beaten, mocked and crowned with thorns at the Monastery of the Flagellation before being crucified and buried at the Church of the Holy Sepulchre.
The Gospels teach that on the third day after he was crucified, Jesus rose from the dead. The event is commemorated by Easter, the most important day of the church year to most Christians.