Pilgrims mark Good Friday in Jerusalem as Passover and Easter converge
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Pilgrims mark Good Friday in Jerusalem as Passover and Easter converge

Confluence of Christian and Jewish festivals leads to flocks of tourists amid festive atmosphere in the holy city

Chinese Catholic pilgrims carry a wooden cross along the Via Dolorosa in Jerusalem's Old City during the Good Friday procession on April 19, 2019. (Thomas Coex/AFP)
Chinese Catholic pilgrims carry a wooden cross along the Via Dolorosa in Jerusalem's Old City during the Good Friday procession on April 19, 2019. (Thomas Coex/AFP)

Thousands of Christian pilgrims and clergy members marched through the ancient stone alleys of Jerusalem’s Old City, retracing Jesus’s path to crucifixion in observation of Good Friday.

The faithful carried wooden crosses high on their shoulders and sang hymns to mark one of Christianity’s most solemn and sacred days.

The confluence of Good Friday and the Jewish holiday of Passover this year led to flocks of tourists and a festive atmosphere in the holy city.

Worshipers from all over the world marched slowly along the Via Dolorosa, the cobblestone path that cuts through the limestone-walled Old City, where tradition says Jesus bore the cross to his crucifixion. The pilgrims stopped at several points on the way, re-enacting symbolic moments from Jesus’s story.

Worshipers kneel to pray in front of a wooden cross along the Via Dolorosa in Jerusalem’s Old City during the Good Friday procession on April 19, 2019. (Thomas Coex/AFP)

The procession culminates at the Church of the Holy Sepulchre, where Catholic and Orthodox Christians believe Jesus was buried before his resurrection on what is celebrated as Easter Sunday.

Meanwhile Friday, Jewish residents were rushing to complete their preparations for the ritual Seder dinner as the first night of Passover approached. In Jerusalem’s Mahane Yehuda outdoor market, a tumult of shoppers swarmed the stalls, filling their bags with ingredients for the holiday feast. Many observant Jews cleaned their homes of “chametz,” or leavened wheat, traditionally forbidden during the eight days of Passover in commemoration of the Jewish people’s flight from slavery in Egypt, which didn’t allow time for dough to rise into bread.

Ultra-Orthodox Jewish men burn leavened items during the Biur Chametz ritual on April 19, 2019 in Jerusalem. (Menahem Kahana/AFP)

At sundown, Jews will gather around dinner tables to retell the Passover story that celebrates their deliverance from slavery in Old Testament times. The Chabad-Lubavitch movement, one of the world’s largest Jewish religious organizations, has arranged Passover seders in over 100 countries for Jews who seek them, even in some far-flung corners of the globe, such as Congo and rural Australia.

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