Christians mark Good Friday in Old City

Israeli Arab Christians and pilgrims coming from abroad recreate Jesus' last moments in Jerusalem.

Christians Easter 2009 248.88 (photo credit: Ariel Jerozolimksi )
Christians Easter 2009 248.88
(photo credit: Ariel Jerozolimksi )
Thousands of Christian clergymen, worshipers and pilgrims thronged the alleyways of Jerusalem's Old City, chanting hymns and bearing crosses as they marked Good Friday by retracing Jesus's final footsteps. Hundreds attended prayers Friday morning at the Church of the Holy Sepulchre, where Christian tradition says Jesus was crucified and resurrected. Brown-robed Roman Catholic friars filed into the ancient church after its wooden doors were unlocked. They were followed by pilgrims, some of whom fell to their knees to kiss a smooth stone believed to mark the spot where Jesus's body was placed after he was crucified. Steps away, inside the church, were the stairs leading to Golgotha, marking the site of the crucifixion. Nearby was the structure marking the site of the cave where Jesus is said to have been entombed. Afterward, Christians filled the stone alleyways of the Old City in Good Friday processions following Jesus's final journey down the Via Dolorosa, the Way of Sorrows, where 14 stations commemorate events that befell him as he was led to his death. Crowds pushed through the streets, with some bearing wooden crosses. Some groups chanted hymns in Latin, while local Christians sang in Arabic. John Herder of Ontario, Canada, said he had traveled to Jerusalem for the occasion. "It's a very moving experience," he said. A group of pilgrims from Orange County, California performed an annual reenactment of the events of Good Friday. A man dressed as Jesus, wearing a loincloth and a crown of thorns, was taken through the streets by two men dressed as Roman legionnaires. They were escorted by curious bystanders snapping photos and a contingent of policemen, some of the hundreds of security personnel deployed to keep order. The Old City was full of visitors of different faiths Friday. The Jewish Quarter and the Western Wall was packed with people, many of them Israelis celebrating Pessah. One of the key dates in the Christian calendar, Good Friday marks Jesus's crucifixion and death, as recounted in the Bible. It is followed by the celebration of his resurrection on Easter Sunday. (AP)