About 1,000 pilgrims retraced the steps of Jesus to the Old City of Jerusalem on Palm Sunday yesterday, a small fraction of the usual number, a reflection of the effects of 18 months of violence.
In a demonstration of support for peace efforts, for the first time the Archbishop of Canterbury, George Carey, joined the Latin Patriarch of Jerusalem, Michel Sabbah, and pilgrims in the hike down the Mount of Olives and up to the walled Old City. This year the procession was called a "Walk for Peace."
The procession follows the traditional path taken by Jesus before his arrest, trial and crucifixion by the Roman rulers. In previous years thousands of Christian pilgrims and tourists have thronged the narrow cobbled streets, waving palm fronds and singing hymns.
Those who participated said they were not frightened.
At the end of the procession, Archbishop Carey spoke to the small crowd gathered at St. Anne's church, just inside the Old City walls.
"I have seen something of the great difficulties that people suffer in the Holy Land and each one in our hearts longs for peace," he said.
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