Orthodox pilgrims stand in the light coming from the window of the Holy Sepulchre.
Orthodox pilgrims stand in the light coming from the window of the Holy Sepulchre.
Photograph by Alessio Romenzi, National Geographic

See Powerful Images of Pilgrims Celebrating Easter in Jerusalem

Christians gather to commemorate the death and resurrection of Jesus during Holy Week.

It was in Jerusalem that, according to the Christian faith, Jesus Christ was crucified, buried and resurrected.

During Holy Week (which begins on Palm Sunday, the day that marks Jesus' entry into Jerusalem, according to the Gospels) worshippers gather at the sites where it is believed these critical events occurred.

On the two most significant days of Holy Week, mourning and celebrations each take a turn in Jerusalem.

On Good Friday, when Jesus is said to have been crucified, solemn processions take place in Jerusalem’s Old City. Many Christian pilgrims from all over the world proceed from the Mount of Olives to the Holy Sepulchre in the middle of the Old City. (See our exclusive coverage on the opening of the Holy Sepulchre and the alleged burial place of Jesus for the first time in hundreds of years.)

Many of the pilgrims carry wooden crosses to commemorate the crucifixion, some carrying it on their backs as Jesus was said to have been forced to do as he marched to his crucifixion.

Many Good Friday processions end with a candlelit vigil in the Church of the Holy Sepulchre, where pilgrims and religious worshipped together as they meditated on the death of Jesus.

Holy Saturday followed, bringing the celebration of the Holy Fire. The celebration centers around a light that allegedly emanates from inside the Tomb of Christ, igniting nearby candles. The Greek Patriarch then shares the light around the surrounding clergy and pilgrims, spreading it to the whole congregation.

All celebrations led to the main event, Easter Sunday, celebrating the resurrection of Jesus.

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