Pilgrims worship: atmosphere is relaxed

Thousands of Christian pilgrims filled the narrow streets of Jerusalem 's Old City on Good Friday, retracing the route that Jesus followed on his way to the crucifixion. The pilgrims packed the Via Dolorosa, the winding path through Jerusalem 's walled Old City where tradition says Jesus walked as he carried his cross on the path to his death. The processions all ended at the Church of the Holy Sepulcher, which marks the site of the crucifixion.

Along the way, worshippers from India , the Philippines , Germany , Spain , Indonesia , France , Switzerland , Italy , and many other countries paused at each of the 14 stations of the cross to pray and sing. Pilgrims even kneeled down to worship in the streets. Israeli Arab Christians were among the largest groups forming processions along the route.

A group of Californians who re-enact Jesus' final walk in costume every year began their procession around midday . A blood-soaked "Jesus" wearing a crown of thorns was followed by Roman soldiers dressed in red and gold as he carried a large wooden cross to the Holy Sepulcher. He did not enter, though, since dressing as Jesus is considered blasphemous by sects within the church.

Hans de Mol, a Roman Catholic from the Netherlands , was on his third Good Friday pilgrimage to Jerusalem . "This year, the atmosphere in Jerusalem is the most relaxed it's ever been," he said. "Three years ago, there was more military presence. This year, there's much less tension", reports the AP.


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