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Christians across the Holy Land mark Easter Sunday

posted 24 Apr 2011, 07:06 by Sam Mbale   [ updated 24 Apr 2011, 07:08 ]

Catholic, Orthodox worshippers hold Easter Sunday mass in Jerusalem, the West Bank and Gaza.

JERUSALEM (APRIL 24, 2011) REUTERS - Christian worshippers marked Easter Sunday (April 24) in sacred Christian sites across the Holy Land.

In Jerusalem, several thousands of pilgrims arrived in the Old City's Church of the Holy Sepulchre where they

attended a festive mass to celebrate Jesus' resurrection.

"We are here to visit the Church of the Holy Sepulchre because its Easter Sunday, so this is a place of importance to us. Its a place of veneration because it recalls Jesus rising from the dead," said Edward Piteler, a pilgrim from The U.S.

Another pilgrim from Russia told Reuters Television: "Its important for me because I believe in God and I hope that after visiting this place my life will be better," just before he entered mass.

Latin Patriarch Fouad Twal led the faithful in prayer at the traditional site of Jesus' crucifixion, burial and resurrection, which is considered one of Christianity's most sacred sites.

Pope Benedict XVI appointed Archbishop Twal, as the Latin Patriarch of Jerusalem in 2008. He is the highest ranking Roman Catholic cleric in the Holy Land.

In the West Bank town of Bethlehem, revered as Jesus' birth place, Palestinian Christians and pilgrims from around the world flocked to the Church of Nativity for Easter Sunday mass.

"It is an important occasion for everyone; they meet and visit each other. We hope that peace will be in this country and Jerusalem our capital. Thank God. Happy Easter," resident of Bethlehem, Elias Mickel, said.

In the Hamas-ruled Gaza Strip, the small Palestinian Christian community also convened for mass with prayers and hymns in a local church.

Easter Sunday marks the day that according to Christian belief, Jesus was resurrected three days after his death by crucifixion.