Thousands of Christian pilgrims from all over the world are thronging to Jerusalem for Holy Week services that began on Palm Sunday. Participating in the “Procession Palmarum,” they bore aloft palm fronds on their way from Bethpage down the Mount of Olives and into the Old City through St. Stephen’s Gate. On Maundy Thursday, the Church of the Holy Sepulchre became again the scene of the “mandatum,” the washing-of-the-feet ceremony.
Beginning early on Good Friday, thousands of pilgrims participate in the traditional Way of the Cross procession. They set out from the first of the fourteen stations, near St. Stephen’s (the Lion’s) Gate, and, proceeding along the Via Dolorosa, retrace Jesus’ last steps leading up to Calvary. Pilgrims from the four corners of the earth split into national groupings, some bearing aloft a wooden cross, a facsimile of the one Jesus carried on his last walk. Holy Week services reach their climax on Saturday night amid the echoes of “Resurrexit sicut dixit” (“he has risen as he said”) in front of the empty tomb.
At Easter dawn as the last stars break their watch over Jerusalem, Christian pilgrims set out for services at the various Catholic and Protestant churches. The first is held at sunrise outside St. Andrew’s Chapel (Church of Scotland) on a hill across the Hinnom Valley from Mt. Zion. There, sitting in the open, the congregation faces the eastern Judean hills watching the sun rise—pink and then purple—at five A.M. and chants while the bells toll in the distance, “Jesus Christ is risen today, hallelujah!”
An hour later, across the valley and inside Jaffa Gate, the Latin Patriarch, Monsignor Giacomo Biltritti, leaves his residence to officiate at a pontifical high mass at the Holy Sepulchre. Flanked ...1
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