Thousands celebrate Easter in Holy Land
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Thousands celebrate Easter in Holy Land

Easter Mass held in Holy Sepulchre, Bethlehem, and Gaza; Pope Francis issues prayer for peace in Syria, Ukraine

The Latin Patriarch of Jerusalem and Head of the Roman Catholic Church in the Holy Land, Fuad Twal (C), leads an Easter Sunday mass in the Church of Holy Sepulchre in Jerusalem's Old City on April 20, 2014.  (photo credit: AFP PHOTO/GALI TIBBON)
The Latin Patriarch of Jerusalem and Head of the Roman Catholic Church in the Holy Land, Fuad Twal (C), leads an Easter Sunday mass in the Church of Holy Sepulchre in Jerusalem's Old City on April 20, 2014. (photo credit: AFP PHOTO/GALI TIBBON)

Thousands of pilgrims from around the world celebrated Easter in the Holy Land, commemorating the day when according to Christian tradition Jesus was resurrected in Jerusalem two millennia ago.

Latin Patriarch Fouad Twal led Mass at the Holy Sepulchre church in Jerusalem on Sunday. The site is where Christians believe Jesus was crucified, buried and resurrected.

In the West Bank town of Bethlehem, worshipers prayed and lit candles at the Church of the Nativity, traditionally believed to be the birthplace of Jesus.

Easter was also celebrated in Gaza where less than three thousand Christians live among about 1.7 million Muslims.

Christian communities in the Holy Land, as well as elsewhere in the Middle East, have been declining in recent years due to regional turmoil.

Pope Francis greets the crowd after the Easter mass on April 20, 2014 at St Peter's square in Vatican. (photo credit: AFP PHOTO / FILIPPO MONTEFORTE)
Pope Francis greets the crowd after the Easter mass on April 20, 2014 at St Peter’s square in Vatican City. (photo credit: AFP PHOTO / FILIPPO MONTEFORTE)

Pope Francis prayed for peace in Ukraine and Syria in an Easter Sunday address before 150,000 faithful in which he also condemned the “neglect and dire poverty” behind the spread of the deadly Ebola virus in Africa.

“We ask you to enlighten and inspire the initiatives that promote peace in Ukraine,” the Catholic leader said in his prayer for the holiday, which this year coincides with Easter in the Orthodox calendar.

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