The streets of Jerusalem’s Old City were eerily quiet on Friday, after Greek Orthodox church
authorities canceled the traditional Easter procession along the Via Dolorosa amid a nationwide
In the morning a handful of Orthodox priests – some wearing black face masks to match their
distinctive vestments – arrived at the Church of the Holy Sepulchre, revered in Christian tradition as
the site of Jesus’ burial, crucifixion and resurrection.
The clerics were granted entry to the building, and soon afterwards the sound of prayers could be
heard from within.
But there was no subsequent procession down the Via Dolorosa, as in normal years, along the route
that Christians believe Jesus passed on his way to crucifixion.
The Holy Sepulchre was closed to the public last month amid precautions against the coronavirus.
But small numbers of clerics have been permitted inside to celebrate the events of Holy Week.
The Greek Orthodox and Armenian Orthodox churches share custody of the building with Roman
Catholics, who celebrated Easter last week.
The Orthodox authorities are expected on Saturday to mark the ceremony of the Holy Fire,
celebrating Jesus’ resurrection. But the celebration will be very different from normal years, when
the Holy Sepulchre is packed with pilgrims and worshipers.