Thousands gathered in the Christian Quarter of Jerusalem's OId City Friday for the Way of the Cross procession, retracing Jesus's last steps before his crucifixion, The New York Post reported.
The ceremony, held on Good Friday, comes before the holiday of Easter, which commemorates the resurrection of Jesus following his death on the cross.
But the ceremony took on new meaning in 2021, with Jerusalem finally allowing religious mass gatherings due to its successful vaccination rollout which saw a massive decline in COVID-19 cases.
This had also led to the Church of the Holy Sepulchre being allowed to open to the public last week for Palm Sunday.
"Last year was a terrible Easter, without people; closed doors. This year is much better, the door is open, we don't have a lot of people but we feel more hopeful that things will become better," Latin Patriarch of Jerusalem Pierbattista Pizzaballa told Reuters at the time as he emerged from the church flanked by clerics and worshippers carrying palm fronds.
"The message of Easter is life and love," he said. "Despite all the signs of death, corona, pandemic, whatever, we believe in the power of love and life."
The scene was very different from 2020, which saw celebrations and religious gatherings canceled due to the pandemic.
The situation is not entirely back to normal yet, however. Indoor services still have capacity restrictions, and the fact that foreigners are largely barred from entering the country without special permission means that many pilgrims will be unable to come.
Life is slowly getting back to normal in Israel, however, with the reopening of the Church of the Holy Sepulchre and allowing mass religious gatherings for Easter signifying a resurrection of normalcy amid the pandemic.
While Catholics this year observe Easter on April 4, the holiday is celebrated nearly a month later on May 2 for Orthodox Christians.
Reuters contributed to this report.