Pilgrims journey to Jerusalem for Good Friday

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Saturday, March 26, 2005

A view of the Old City
A view of the Old City

Christians from many countries flocked to Jerusalem on Friday, to follow the traditional Via Dolorosa, or Way of Sorrows, marking the various spots in the city at which Jesus stopped, according to Christian tradition, on the way to his crucifixion on the hill of Calvary.

Some of the visitors carried large crosses, and others had crowns of thorns on their head.

Visitors from far-flung locales including Ireland, the Philippines, and the United States have been coming in numbers much higher than in previous years, when regular occurrences of violence caused travel to Israel to plummet.

"With the ceasefire and Arafat’s successor, there’s even less reason to worry," said 38-year-old Connon McCabe, from Dublin, Ireland.

"In the last 15 days, we’ve seen hundreds more visitors," said Muslim shopkeeper Hashim Melki. "I like having people in my shop again after four years," Melki said.

Israeli police estimated attendance at the event was about 3,500.

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