Christians carry a cross on the Via Dolorosa, the Way of the Cross, on Good Friday in the Old City of Jerusalem. The Via Dolorosa follows the traditional route Christians believe Jesus Christ carried the cross to his crucifixion. Photo by Debbie Hill/UPI | License Photo
April 19 (UPI) -- Christians around the world observed Good Friday -- the acknowledged date of Jesus Christ's crucifixion -- with traditional ceremonies, prayers and re-enactments.
In Jerusalem, thousands of pilgrims retraced Jesus' steps and some carried crosses as the procession wound through the Old City to Golgotha, the area where the Bible says crucifixion occurred. Another procession later Friday would re-enact the burial.
The event is similar to thousands of religious statements in which the walk, known as the Way of the Cross, is re-enacted around the world. Catholic communities in New York City and Chicago are among several that stopped traffic on Good Friday to accommodate a procession.
In Chicago, eight churches in Pilsen, a predominately Latino community, participated in Pilsen Via Crucis -- a dramatic reenactment of the Stations of the Cross, which are 14 incidents mentioned in the New Testament as Jesus walked to his death. The city's walk features a number of costumed actors, including Roman soldiers.
A free, open-air play is performed in London's Trafalgar Square each Good Friday. "The Passion of Jesus" typically involves over 100 actors and several animals. Because it's regarded as a realistic portrayal of the crucifixion, organizers suggest parental guidance.
Re-enactments in the heavily Catholic Philippines are famous for their blood-soaked Good Friday rituals. At least nine people were nailed to crosses there Friday as crowds traveling to San Pedro Cutud dressed as centurions to pin worshipers to crosses with 3-inch spikes. Processions in some towns involved walkers wearing crowns of twigs as they beat themselves with whips and bamboo sticks. The Catholic Church has officially distanced itself from flagellations and severity associated with the rituals, insisting that Christ's death on the cross "need not be repeated."
In Rome on Friday night, Pope Francis led the traditional Via Crucis, or the Way of the Cross, at the Colosseum. It dates back back to Pope Benedict XIV in the 18th century. Pope St Paul VI revived the practice in 1964.
Francis recited present-day crosses, representing various forms of suffering in the world today: including poor, migrants, elderly, injustice, evil, greed. He decried child sexual abuse by clergy, describing the victims as "the cross of the little ones wounded in their innocence and purity."
The Notre Dame Cathedral in Paris, which burned earlier this week, moved its Easter celebrations to other churches -- but continued its Good Friday events outside the fire-ravaged sanctuary.
Christians observe Good Friday in Jerusalem
Palestinian Christians carry a cross on the Via Dolorosa, the Way of the Cross, on Good Friday. The Via Dolorosa follows the traditional route that Christians believe Jesus Christ carried the cross to his crucifixion. Photo by Debbie Hill/UPI | License Photo