JERUSALEM, Apr. 4 (JMCC) – Throngs
of pilgrims and eager tourists crowded the Old City of Jerusalem over
the weekend to celebrate the Christian holiday of Easter.
On Saturday evening, Holy Fire
celebrations—symbolizing the resurrection of Christ—carried over
into the night as hundreds of Ethiopian Orthodox Christians gathered
in a lively procession of dancing and lighting candles while others
chanted and played drums, and locals enjoyed the show from the
“It was such a beautiful display of
faith,” says Katherine Harmon, a tourist visiting from Ireland. “I
had never seen anything like it where I come from and the way people
On Easter Sunday, pilgrims from all
over the world marked what they believe to be the anniversary of the
resurrection of Jesus Christ at churches and holy sites throughout
At Jerusalem's most venerated Christian
site, the Church of the Holy Sepulchre—the place where Jesus was
believed to be crucified and buried—several religious denominations
who share the Church in a complicated and often unstable arrangement,
came together for the first time to commemorate the Easter
celebration on the same day.
“It is a very nice thing celebrating
Easter in the Holy Land, especially because they chose to combine the
Orthodox and Catholic Easters,” said Laure Zalzberg, a French
national currently living in the city.
FREEDOM OF WORSHIP
Yet, not all Christians were free to
worship in Jerusalem this Easter. Most of the country's indigenous
Palestinian Christians living outside of the municipal boundaries of
Jerusalem, were barred from freely entering the Old City.
According to an earlier report, Israel
says it issued 10,000 permits to Palestinians living in the West Bank
and Gaza in 2010. However, because Easter and the Jewish holiday of
Passover overlapped this year, Palestinians from the West Bank were
largely prevented from entering Jerusalem by Israeli security.
Palestinians claim they have been
denied free worship at their holy sites by Israel for years.
Christians usually have it a bit easier than their Muslim
compatriots, but this year the old city was noticeably empty of
Palestinian worshippers during the Easter holiday.
“It is a shame, that the people with
the strongest roots to the city are not really here to carry on their
tradition,” exclaims Harmon.