Malta Independent

Christian pilgrims march through Jerusalem for Good Friday


A confluence of Good Friday and Passover this year

Thousands of Christian pilgrims and clergy members marched through the ancient stone alleys of Jerusalem’s Old City, retracing Jesus’ path to crucifixio­n in observatio­n of Good Friday.

The faithful carried wooden crosses high on their shoulders and sang hymns to mark one of Christiani­ty’s most solemn and sacred days.

The confluence of Good Friday and the Jewish holiday of Passover this year led to flocks of tourists and a festive atmosphere in the holy city.

Worshipper­s from all over the world marched slowly along the Via Dolorosa, the cobbleston­e path that cuts through the limestonew­alled Old City, where tradition says Jesus bore the cross to his crucifixio­n. The pilgrims stopped at several points on the way, re-enacting symbolic moments from Jesus’ story.

The procession culminates at the Church of the Holy Sepulchre, where Catholic and Orthodox Christians believe Jesus was buried before his resurrecti­on on what is celebrated as Easter Sunday.

Meanwhile Friday, Jewish residents were rushing to complete their preparatio­ns for the ritual Seder dinner as the first night of Passover approached. In Jerusalem’s Mahane Yehuda outdoor market, a tumult of shoppers swarmed the stalls, filling their bags with ingredient­s for the holiday feast. Many observant Jews cleaned their homes of “chametz,” or leavened wheat, traditiona­lly forbidden during the eight days of Passover in commemorat­ion of the Jewish people’s flight from slavery in Egypt, which didn’t allow time for dough to rise into bread.

The Chabad-Lubavitch movement, one of the world’s largest Jewish religious organizati­ons, has arranged Passover seders in over 100 countries for Jews who seek them, even in some far-flung corners of the globe, such as Congo and rural Australia. At sundown, Jews will gather around dinner tables to retell the Passover story that celebrates their deliveranc­e from slavery in Old Testament times.

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