In a corner of the Church of the Holy Sepulcher, Angell Parnesita’s tears reveal a feeling that this Christian has difficulty translating into words. Limited to last year due to coronovirus, the now vaccinated Filipina shared the excitement over handling Jerusalem over Easter.
Like him, hundreds of believers remember the cobblestones of the Old City to crucify Christ on the occasion of this Good Friday.
Participates in the celebration of the Cross of the Way at the Church of the Holy Sepoy in Jerusalem – Photo: Reuters / Ammar Awad
And in the Holy Sepulcher, a church considered to be the holiest place in Christianity, a crowd’s prayers echoed as it had not been heard for months.
Inside, some hesitate to touch or even kiss, with or without a sanitary mask, a stone of coating, a red limestone plate on which, according to tradition, the body of Christ was embalmed before being buried. did not do.
“It’s so much better than last year,” Pernecta says, she had tears on her face.
The 46-year-old housewife, who has lived in Israel for more than 10 years, followed Easter 2020 extensively on the Internet.
At that time, the Israeli authorities had just ordered Closure of sacred sites besides schools and businesses to limit the spread of the virus.
Thus, the Church of the Holy Sepulcher was closed for Easter for the first time in at least a century.
Today, “it’s like living again”, says Leena Sliby, a Palestinian from Jerusalem, who celebrated Easter last year without a church and a large family.
“It was difficult, as if the city had died,” says the 28-year-old girl, who sings during the public in Bethlehem, another holy city, a few kilometers from Jerusalem.
In 2020, only four religious people traveled to Via Crucis, where Jesus, according to Gospels, found his mother, the way of sorrow, fell, helped to carry the cross and met weeping women.
This year, a procession of a few hundred faithful led by many religious people sang in many languages, providing life for this long artery passing through the Old City and its millennium lanes.
“It’s as if we ourselves were in a grave last year and now we’re leaving it,” celebrates British woman Angina Keizer, for whom Israel’s vaccination campaign – the fastest in the world – allows for a normal Easter.
Or approx. Usually, thousands of pilgrims from all over the world gather at this time of year in the old city. And although the ban on coronoviruses has been gradually lifted, tourists are not allowed to return to the Holy Land.
“On one side it’s nice to walk without a tourist crowd, but on the other hand, I’d prefer that they were here, for the economy, and for them to live Easter in the Holy Land” says Keiser.
According to the Latin Patriarchet of Jerusalem, in 2019, more than 25,000 people gathered in Jerusalem to celebrate Palm Sunday, which marks the launch of Holy Week.
“It’s good to live without so many people together,” says Mike, an American who went to the Holy Sepulkar with his family.
“We were able to sit near the tomb (of Jesus), we had time to reflect, it was more peaceful”.
But the absence of a multitude of pilgrims takes away some spiritual feelings, he admits.
Badar Rabadi, a Palestinian Christian from Jerusalem, is also pleased to find Page in a “painful” moment on the Easter feat.
But this tour guide is firmly waiting for his supporters from abroad to share the spirit of this festival, one of the most important in Christianity. Because “Jerusalem is not ours, it belongs to everyone”.