Thousands Celebrate Easter in the Holy Land, Rome

By: AP
By: AP

Thousands of pilgrims from around the world are celebrating 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 Sepulcher 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.

In Rome, there was an overflow crowd in St. Peter's Square.

Pope Francis celebrated Mass, praying for peace dialogue in Ukraine and Syria and for an end to the terrorist attacks in Nigeria that have targeted many Christians.

More than 150,000 tourists - Romans and pilgrims, young and old - turned out on a sunny day.

A rainstorm had lashed Rome on Saturday night, with thunder competing with the sound of hymns when Francis led a vigil service in St. Peter's Basilica. Dawn brought clear skies and warm temperatures.

This year, the Roman Catholic church's celebration of Easter coincides with that of the Orthodox church. Some of the hymns at the Vatican Mass were in Russian.


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