For Christians, Holy Week in Jerusalem has a special spiritual connection. The Old City, its gates and roads, the Mount of Olives, Via Dolorosa and The Holy Sepulchre Church, where pilgrims from all over the world journey to, are equally important to the Palestinian Christians of Gaza and the West Bank, who want to join their Christian brethren in Jerusalem, for the liturgical events leading to the holiest celebration in Christianity.
On Good Friday, pilgrims will process along the Via Dolorosa (Way of Suffering), which tradition holds is the same path Jesus took as He carried the cross to the site of the crucifixion. The route has been debated by Christians for centuries, but there have been nine stations or stops on the route for about six centuries.
The procession ends at the Church of the Holy Sepulcher, where on Saturday, Eastern Orthodox Christians believe a flame appears in the tomb of Jesus and is caught by both a Greek patriarch and an Armenian Orthodox priest.
They share the flame with worshippers who have candles. For those who cannot squeeze into the ancient church, there will be jumbo screens outside for observance of the ceremony which is called the Saturday of Light or Sapt il-Noor. Although Protestant and Catholic Christians do not observe this ritual, Orthodox sects including Greek, Syrian, Armenian, Copts and Russian churches do.
Ethiopian Orthodox worshippers celebrate the Holy Fire ceremony at the Ethiopian section of the Church of the Holy Sepulcher friday in Jerusalem’s Old City, Israel. Hundreds of Orthodox Christians, all from different sects, participated in the ceremony a day preceding Orthodox Easter, and has been celebrated by worshipers for the last 1,200 years.