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Christians Kick-Off Holy Week With Palm Sunday Celebrations

03-29-2021
Christian worshippers walk in a Palm Sunday procession on the Mount of Olives in Jerusalem, Sunday, March 28, 2021. (AP Photo/Mahmoud Illean)
Christian worshippers walk in a Palm Sunday procession on the Mount of Olives in Jerusalem, Sunday, March 28, 2021. (AP Photo/Mahmoud Illean)

JERUSALEM, Israel – Christians across the Holy Land gathered to celebrate Palm Sunday yesterday, officially kicking off Holy Week.

Christian worshippers held a service on Sunday at the Church of the Holy Sepulchre in Jerusalem, traditionally believed to be the site where Jesus was crucified, buried, and resurrected.

Priests take part in a procession during Palm Sunday mass in the Church of the Holy Sepulchre in the Old City of Jerusalem, Sunday, March 28 2021. 

Carrying palm and olive branches, they circled the Edicule, a domed shrine built over the tomb where Jesus’ body would have been laid after crucifixion.

After the service at the Church of the Holy Sepulchre, hundreds walked in a procession from the Mount of Olives to the holy city, retracing the steps the Bible says Jesus took 2,000-years-ago. Scripture says before his crucifixion, Jesus rode into Jerusalem riding on a young donkey as crowds carrying palm branches cheered.

"Palm Sunday is when Jesus, peace be upon him, entered Jerusalem on a donkey.” Shait Stakala, a pilgrim from South Africa, told The Associated Press. “It was prophesized that the Messiah will come riding on a donkey, entering Jerusalem. So today is that day."

Israel is still closed to tourists, so those who attended the celebrations were a mixture of foreign nationals working in Israel and local Christian residents.

In Gaza and the West Bank – biblical Judea and Samaria – Palestinian believers also celebrated Palm Sunday.

People attend a mass on a Palm Sunday at the Church of the Nativity in Bethlehem, Sunday, March 28 2021. (AP Photo/Majdi Mohammed)

Worshippers gathered at the Church of the Nativity, traditionally believed to be the site where Jesus was born. There, they also held palm branches and sang hymns.

Approximately 1,000 Christians live in Gaza, a tiny fraction of the territory’s 2 million people. Most are Greek Orthodox and Catholics makeup about a quarter of the community.

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