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Jerusalem – an amazing city in itself, and during major Christian holidays in the atmosphere it is truly extraordinary. Events of the Catholic Holy Week and Easter, that Catholics and Protestants around the world celebrated yesterday, March 27, became for me a terrific experience and I want to share my impressions with readers Matrony.Ru.

I will begin with the feast of the Entry into Jerusalem , also known as Palm Sunday. There is, of course, not the Palm and Palm. Every year, the procession, which involves the local Catholic community and pilgrims begins at Bethphage: And when approached Jerusalem and came to Bethphage, to the Mount of Olives (Matthew 21: 1). Today it is part of East Jerusalem (that is, exclusively Arab population).

Already for a few hundred meters to the Franciscan church street filled with people with palm and olive branches and, of course, journalists. The courtyard of the church is crowded – it says that in one day it is visited by more people than during the whole year. At two o’clock in the afternoon a procession of faithful finally pushed to repeat Jesus’ journey to Jerusalem (again quite roughly, as, of course, since the time of Christ, the city was rebuilt and changed its appearance).

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The solemn procession down the Mount of Olives is accompanied by music and songs – in this day should remain in joy, because the feast of the Entry into Jerusalem reminds us of the impending entrance into the kingdom of heaven. The actual path is not very long, but the procession stretching for a kilometer, moving slowly, with stops. Therefore, the road to the Old Town takes more than two hours, during which not stop singing praises and hymns. It can be tiring physically, but the feeling of happiness and religious rapture gives strength. You feel that now, among the following, invisibly present Christ.

Column enters through the Lion Gate and stops in the courtyard of the Basilica of St. Anne’s. On the balcony next to it there are people, they greet incoming and throw white rice.

Also on this day, New Gate, and the area around them is decorated with palm branches (the gate – the main entrance to the Christian part of the Old Town).

During Holy Week daily in all the churches of Jerusalem, the solemn service. And not only in churches – also by way of the Cross (Via Dolorosa) is in the process.
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A small digression: this year the Holy Week came the Jewish holiday of Purim – the most cheerful holiday in Judaism, dedicated to the events of the Book of Esther. From Tuesday to Friday Jerusalem turned into one big carnival, people in fancy dress, noise, fun. In contrast to the expectations of the atmosphere of Easter, filled the Christian part of the Old Town, it was all some kind of surreal tint.

Most impressive is the funeral procession in the church of the Holy Sepulchre on Good Friday. It begins in the Catholic part of the temple, to the left of the coffin. Solemnly included Franciscan monks led by the Custodian of the Holy Land (this is the main abbot of the Order). Before the monks are two Arabs in ceremonial robes – blue-coated, gold-embroidered, red fezzes and ornate swords at his belt. They hold the heavy wooden stick with metal tops: these sticks they knock on the floor, announcing the approach of the procession. This so-called Kawase – the memory of the Ottoman Empire. Then they followed the order and accompanied by Christian procession. Now it is a tribute to tradition, as the performers themselves this role, the Turks have not (and do not even Muslims, can be Christian Arabs).

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At the beginning of the procession of monks carry a wooden cross with the figure of the crucified Christ. Believers are moving through the temple with six stops. Each stop corresponds to a particular place in the Gospel: from treachery of Judas, and ending with the transfer of the body of Jesus in the tomb. These passages are read in different languages: Latin, Arabic, English, Italian, Polish, German. Between them sing a hymn in Latin Parce Domine – have mercy, Lord, on your people.

The culmination of the procession – Calvary. They placed a crucifix, and bring the characters agony Christ – Crown of Thorns and nail. Then the cross is hung crisp white linen, and the figure of Jesus is removed, to be transferred to the stone of Confirmation. There she was put on a white cloth, and anoint the world, the smell of which can be felt long after the ceremony.

This is the most dramatic moments, the extraordinary strength of the emotional impact on when the Passion events are experienced as if you see them with my own eyes, it’s hard not to cry.
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Then, the process comes to the last place – the Holy Sepulchre, where Jesus left figure, wrapped in a white shroud. That’s all over, but people are not in a hurry to leave. They kneel around the coffin for silent prayer.

We’re approaching the main event – the proclamation of the Resurrection . In the night from Saturday to Sunday, after midnight, begins Easter Vigilius. The Holy Sepulchre is held Custodian of the Holy Land. Opposite the entrance of the coffin placed chairs for the clergy around – benches for the faithful. I must say that there is a place already beginning to occupy a half hour before the start of service.

Vigilius begins with festive singing of hymns and psalms. Sounds authority. Recited a passage from the First Letter of Paul to the Corinthians (15: 1-11): evidence the truth of the Resurrection. Then a passage from the Catechism of St. Cyril of Jerusalem to the Resurrection: Rejoice Jerusalem and sing, all ye loving Jesus, for He is risen .
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After that all participants stand up night service – begins the procession around the tomb. One of the other candles are lit, the heart filled with the brightest joy and consolation. Again sung hymns, alleluia, and then, finally, read a passage from the Gospel about the events of Easter morning. The service is completed, all congratulate each other, many remain for prayer – the doors of the Temple will be open all night. Someone, on the contrary, hurry home through the deserted streets of the Old Town – in the morning to go back for Sunday services.

Many pilgrims come specifically to Jerusalem for the Passover, and it is clear why – it’s a unique experience, not only religious, but also aesthetic. For me, participation in these events was a real eye-opener, really strengthen the faith. I think any Christian least once in a lifetime experience is worth it, having visited the places of the path of Jesus.

The material used photos from the site custodia.org

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