Jerusalem: record numbers of Jewish and Christian pilgrims as festivals coincide

 Huge crowds gathered in the Old City of Jerusalem on Sunday, because for the first time in many years, the Catholic Easter occurred on the same day as the Orthodox Palm Sunday and the Jewish Passover blessing at the Western Wall.

Crowds virtually came to a standstill at times in the ancient streets, as worshippers made their way to their different sacred places. Jewish families headed for the Western Wall. Pilgrims from around the world and local Catholics attended Easter Mass at the Church of the Holy Sepulchre, celebrated by the Latin Patriarch of Jerusalem Archbishop Fouad Twal. Local Christians from the Orthodox Coptic Church and pilgrims from Egypt brought armfuls of palms and flowers to celebrate Palm Sunday at the Coptic shrine. The Greek Orthodox shrine nearby was also overflowing with worshippers.

One Christian pilgrim said: "Although I think it will be difficult to get into the churches today, it is wonderful to see so many people gathered here peacefully in this sacred place."


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