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Holy Thursday in Jerusalem’s old city

posted 21 Apr 2011, 07:42 by Sam Mbale   [ updated 21 Apr 2011, 07:44 ]
Greek Orthodox Patriarch Theophilus III washes the feet of his clergymen on Holy Thursday.
JERUSALEM-WASHING OF FEET - Church bells echo through Jerusalem's Old City.

Easter Holy Week celebrations are under way at the Holy Sepulchre Church, as Christian churches worldwide celebrate Maundy Thursday.

Greek Orthodox Patriarch Theophilus III washes the feet of 12 of his clergymen -- just as Jesus is said to have done to his 12 disciples prior to the Last Supper.

The commemorative cleansing is usually performed by the highest ranking clergyman in emulation of Jesus' act.

Thousands attended the mass -- many of them local Palestinian Christians -- at the church said to sit on the site of Christ's crucifixion, burial, and resurrection.

The church was built by the Roman emperor Constantine and later rebuilt by the Byzantine emperor Constantine Monomachus.

It has survived fires and earthquakes.

Because of fights over ownership of the church among Armenians, Greeks, Copts, Roman Catholics, Ethiopians and Syrians, the church is unlocked each morning by a Muslim key holder.

Travis Brecher, Reuters