Tens of thousands of pilgrims in Bethlehem for Christmas
December 24, 2010
Tens of thousands of pilgrims crowded into Manger Square in Bethlehem on Christmas Eve, as a decline in violence on the West Bank encouraged a surge of Christian visitors.
Israeli authorities expect 90,000 people to visit Bethlehem during the Christmas season. With the town’s hotels completely booked, many of the pilgrims were staying in nearby Jerusalem. Approaching Bethlehem, pilgrims passed through a gate in the massive Israeli security wall that separates the towns.
Archbishop Fouad Twal, the Latin-rite Patriarch of Jerusalem, led the traditional procession from Jerusalem to Bethlehem in the early afternoon of December 24. He was to preside at midnight Mass.
- Christmas cheer abounds in sunny Bethlehem (AFP)
- Pilgrims, clergy come to Bethlehem for Christmas (AP)