Jerusalem (AFP) – Hundreds of pilgrims filed into Jerusalem’s Church of the Holy Sepulchre — believed to be the site of Jesus’s resurrection — for Easter celebrations on Sunday.
Western Christians marked Easter on Sunday, while eastern Orthodox Christians do so on April 8.
The eastern Orthodox marked Palm Sunday on April 1 and also held mass at the church in Jerusalem’s Old City, with worshippers holding palm fronds as is tradition.
Some worshippers prostrated over a stone — where they believe Jesus’s body was anointed before his burial — near the towering wooden doors at the entrance to the church.
The church is built at the site where Christians believe Jesus was crucified, buried and resurrected. A recently renovated ornate shrine within the church surrounds the cave where Jesus is believed to have been buried.
Easter marks the day when Christians believe the miracle of his resurrection occurred.
Catholic Archbishop Pierbattista Pizzaballa held mass at the church on Sunday morning near the shrine over the cave, entering dressed in the traditional purple Easter robe.
He made reference to the Middle East’s numerous conflicts in his homily, saying “our times are marked by death”.
“Easter is the ability to come back and look at our history in the light of the promise of life that takes place today,” he said.
“Yes, today, at Easter, we announce a life that death can no more extinguish.”
On Friday, Christians traced the route of the Stations of the Cross through the Old City, which pass through the traditional sites of Jesus’s condemnation up to his crucifixion.
In March 2017, renovations to the 19th-century shrine covering Jesus’s tomb were unveiled following a $3.7 million project that restored its stones to their original reddish-yellow and reinforced the heavily visited site.
The Greek Orthodox, Armenian and Roman Catholic denominations share custody of the church, but disputes between the three had led to renovations being delayed for decades.