PEOPLE AND PLACES

PEOPLE AND PLACES

Thursday, January 24, 2013

This Holy Week

 

 

 

 

 

The description of Jesus’s triumphal, palm-strewn procession into Jerusalem, his clash with Pontius Pilate and the Temple authorities, his agonised prayer in the Garden of Gethsemane, his arrest by Roman guards, his torture, trial, Crucifixion and Resurrection is the most important Christian story of all.

Its power as a parable of suffering, sacrifice and transcendence is peerless, and this explains its extraordinary hold on billions of people all over the world.

Yet we don’t really know what happened when Christ was crucified. How can we separate myth from fact? How closely can we rely on the Bible’s account of those few days 2,000 years ago in Jerusalem? These are questions that have fascinated me over the many years I worked on my biography of the Holy City.

'The Passion of the Christ': Actor Jim Caviezel portrays Jesus carrying the cross 2004 film. But how much is myth and how much reality?

'The Passion of the Christ': Actor Jim Caviezel portrays Jesus carrying the cross 2004 film. But how much is myth and how much reality?

With perfect timing, film-maker Simcha Jacobovici claimed this week that he had discovered the nails used in the Crucifixion in what is believed to be the tomb of Caiaphas, the Jewish High Priest in Jerusalem.

Though his claims are unlikely, there are certainly some archaeological finds that can tell us more about the momentous events that first Easter. Jesus always knew he was likely to die in Jerusalem. As we are told in the Bible, he informed his disciples how he ‘must go unto Jerusalem and suffer many things . . . and be killed and be raised again on the third day’.

Jerusalem was the place where Jewish prophets died and where Judgement Day would come.

Like thousands of other Jews from all over the world, he arrived there for the great festival of Passover in AD33.

During his three days in Jerusalem, Jesus preached in the Temple, making three key points: that the Temple would be destroyed; the Apocalypse was imminent; and the Temple aristocracy — which included Caiaphas and prince Herod Antipas, the ruler of Galilee — were corrupt.

In the Royal Portico of the Temple, Jesus challenged the ruling establishment: ‘Is this house, which is called by my name, become a den of robbers?’

That year, the authorities were even more jumpy than usual. In a couple of little-read verses of their Gospels, Mark and Luke recount that there had just been some sort of Galilean rebellion against Roman rule in Jerusalem.

We know only that it had been suppressed by the Roman prefect Pontius Pilate, and 18 Galilean Jews had been killed. One rebel, Barabbas, had killed someone in the fight.

Reliable source material? Most of knowledge of Jesus' Crucifixion comes from the Gospels - yet these were written 70 years later, under Roman supervision

Reliable source material? Most of knowledge of Jesus' Crucifixion comes from the Gospels - yet these were written 70 years later, under Roman supervision

Probably it was this event more than anything Jesus said — and the deadly tension that ensued — that sealed his fate.

On his arrest at the order of Caiaphas — who was Jewish, but a corrupt Roman ally hated by many Jews — Jesus was questioned about his beliefs. But the Jewish leaders were unwilling to try him.

The High Priests had the power to order the death sentence by stoning, but they clearly chose not to do so. Instead, Jesus was sent directly to face Roman justice.

The Roman prefect Pontius Pilate was an aggressive, tactless martinet, loathed in Jerusalem for his venality, violence, theft, assaults, abuse, endless executions and savage ferocity.

Guarded by his troops and watched by a tense crowd, he tried Jesus alongside two so-called thieves (probably rebels) and Barabbas.

The Gospels claim Pilate let the crowd choose to save Barabbas — an unlikely story given his implacable record of slaughtering Jewish dissidents — and that he then washed his hands after sentencing Jesus to crucifixion, declaring: ‘I am innocent of the blood of this just person.’

This appears implausible, for  Pilate was far from being a mealy-mouthed vacillator.

He had only just suppressed one Jewish rebellion and he feared any resurgence of the rebel leaders who had plagued Judaea since Herod the Great’s death 30 years earlier.

Jesus was inflammatory in his way, as well as popular, so Pilate would have wanted to see him off.

And would the watching crowd have taken responsibility for Jesus’s death so willingly in response to Pilate’s hand-washing, as the Gospels suggest? Again, this is unlikely. All these tales were clearly designed to shift the blame on to the Jews.

Re-enactment: Actors perform The Passion of Jesus to crowds in Trafalgar Square. The actors come from the Wintershall Estate, Surrey

Re-enactment: Actors perform The Passion of Jesus to crowds in Trafalgar Square. The actors come from the Wintershall Estate, Surrey

The Gospels, written or amended after the destruction of the Temple, demolition of Jerusalem and downfall of the Jews in AD70, acquited the Romans because the writers were keen to show loyalty to Rome.

Yet sedition, the likely charge against Jesus, and the form of punishment tell us this was a Roman operation. Like most of those condemned to crucifixion, Jesus was scourged with a leather whip tipped with bone or metal, a torment so savage it often killed the victim.

Wearing a placard reading ‘King of the Jews’ and bleeding heavily after his flagellation, Jesus was led out of the Citadel prison carrying the patibulum — crossbar — for his crucifixion.

He went through the streets of the Upper City and left Jerusalem, turning left through the Gennath Gate into the hilly gardens and rock-cut tombs of Jerusalem’s execution hill, which was called Golgotha or the Place of the Skull.

A crowd of friends, enemies and ghoulish spectators followed Jesus out of the city to watch the morbidly technical business of execution.

When he arrived at the execution place, an upright post awaited him and his crossbar: it would have been used before him and would be used again after him.

The soldiers offered Jesus the traditional drink of wine and myrrh to steady his nerves, but he refused. He was then attached to the crossbar and hoisted up the stake.

Crucifixion, said the first century Roman Jewish historian Josephus, was ‘the most miserable death’: it originated in Persia 400 years earlier, was adopted by Alexander the Great and the Carthaginians, then the Romans used it as a means of projecting their power and demonstrating the price of defying it.  

In 71BC, the Roman suppression of the Spartacus slave revolt culminated in mass executions: the Roman general Crassus crucified 6,000 slaves along the Appian Way outside Rome.

The practice continued on an industrial scale long after Jesus died. In AD70, when the Roman general Titus was besieging Jerusalem, he ordered any escaping Jews to be crucified around the city. Five hundred were crucified each day by the Roman soldiers, who enjoyed it so much that they nailed them up in grotesquely obscene poses.

Devotion: Orthodox Christian clergy carry a cross during the Good Friday procession on the Via Dolorosa, retracing the route Jesus walked

Devotion: Orthodox Christian clergy carry a cross during the Good Friday procession on the Via Dolorosa, retracing the route Jesus walked

The hills around Jerusalem resembled a macabre forest of crucifixes on which tens of thousands of Jews were dead or dying. So vast was that mass crucifixion that the Romans exhausted all the forests around Jerusalem. They never grew back.

Death by crucifixion was intended to demean the victim publicly. This is why Pilate ordered the placard ‘King of the Jews’ to be attached to Jesus’s cross.

Victims could be tied or nailed. The skill was to ensure they did not bleed to death. The nails were usually driven through the forearms — not the palms — and ankles. The bones of a crucified Jew have been found in a tomb in north Jerusalem with a 4½ in iron nail sticking through the ankle bone.

Nails from crucifixion victims were popularly worn as charms around the neck by Jews and Gentiles to ward off illness, so the later Christian fascination for crucificial relics was part of a long tradition. Victims were usually crucified naked — with men facing outwards, women inwards.

Jesus was most probably nailed to the cross with his arms outstretched, as shown in Christian art, supported by a sedile (small wedge) under the buttocks and a suppedaneum (ledge) under the feet.

'Death by crucifixion was intended to demean the victim publicly'

This arrangement meant the victim could survive for hours, even days. Crucifixion was a slow death from heat stroke, hunger, suffocation, shock or thirst.

The quickest way to expedite death was to break the legs. The body weight was then borne by  the arms and the victim would asphyxiate within ten minutes.

According to the Gospels, hours went by as Jesus’s enemies mocked him and passers-by jeered. The heat of the day eventually passed into evening. ‘I thirst,’ Jesus said. A sponge was dipped into vinegar and hyssop, and raised to his lips on a reed, like a straw. He gave a sigh. ‘It is finished,’ he said, and lost consciousness.

Given the disturbances in Jerusalem and the imminent Sabbath and Passover holiday, Pilate ordered his executioners to accelerate matters.

The soldiers broke the legs of the two bandits or rebels — exhausted and with their full body weight suspended by their arms, they would struggle to breathe and quickly suffocate.

Passion: Menandro Penafiel, 34, falls to the ground while he is whipped by Roman soldiers in a reenactment in Boac town, Marinduque island, central Philippines

Passion: Menandro Penafiel, 34, falls to the ground while he is whipped by Roman soldiers in a reenactment in Boac town, Marinduque island, central Philippines

But when they came to Jesus he already seemed dead, so to make sure ‘one of the soldiers with a spear pierced his side and forthwith came blood and water’. It may have actually been the spear that killed him.

Jesus’s most prominent supporter, Joseph of Arimathea, hurried to the Praetorium to ask Pilate for the body. Victims were usually left to rot on their crosses, the prey of vultures or packs of dogs, which jumped up at the bodies, but Jews believed in swift burial.

Pilate agreed since he did not want the body to rally discontent. Jesus was laid in a nearby tomb cut out of rock.

He would have been wrapped in a shroud, similar to the first-century one, still bearing clumps of human hair, found in 2009 in a tomb a little to the south of the city walls in the Field of Blood. It has a more simple weave than the famous, but fake, Turin Shroud, which has been dated to between 1260 and 1390. 

Hallowed ground: The Church of the Holy Sepulchre, believed to on the site of the Crucifixion

Hallowed ground: The Church of the Holy Sepulchre, believed to on the site of the Crucifixion

It is almost certain that the Church of the Holy Sepulchre in Jerusalem, which encloses the place of crucifixion and the tomb, really is the historically correct  site where Jesus lay, since its tradition was kept alive by local Christians for three centuries following his death.

Jesus’s followers found his tomb empty three days later — his rising from the dead is the crucial element of the Easter story. This is a question of faith: you either believe it or you don’t.

For sceptics, the Gospels hint at rumours that either the family had reburied the body or the Romans had removed it. What is surprising, perhaps, is that it took so long for the crucifix to become the pre-eminent Christian symbol. For 30 years, Jesus’s followers followed his teachings while still worshipping in the Temple as Jews.

It was St Paul, after his conversion on the road to Damascus, who formed Christian theology by placing the emphasis on the Crucifixion and Resurrection, on the notion that Christ died for the sins of humanity. But it would still be 300 years before the Cross was adopted as the prime Christian symbol, when Constantine the Great, the first Christian emperor, formalised the symbolic power of the crucifix.

In AD329, he sent his mother Helena to oversee his building of a basilica at the site of the Crucifixion and tomb.

During these excavations, Helena, perhaps the first and most successful archaeologist, found  the wood of the crucifix — the  relic that became known as the True Cross or the Life-giving Tree — as well as some nails used in the Crucifixion. 

She sent parts of both to Constantine in Constantinople and kept some for her own church in Rome. The Emperor had part of his horse’s bridle made out of  these nails.
Helena’s discovery played a huge role in promoting the Cross as the Christian symbol and in launching the fashion for relics that quickly proliferated, along with a mass fervour to discover more of them.

'Constantine the Great, the first Christian emperor, formalised the symbolic power of the crucifix'

Soon the Holy Sepulchre boasted everything from the sponge that mopped Jesus’s brow and the lance that pierced his side to the skull of Adam. Pilgrims would caress and hug the True Cross and even take bites out of it.

Before long the relic industry was established — and it was not just relics connected to Jesus. The heads of the saints proliferated, too. The skull of St James was buried in Jerusalem, but there were several around Europe as well.

John the Baptist’s head would become one of the most prized. There would be at least five shrines claiming to have the original: the shrine of John’s head in the Umayyad Mosque in Damascus is revered by Muslims.

Perhaps the most bizarre relic was the Divine Prepuce, or Jesus’s foreskin — there were at least 15 segments in churches around Europe and one in Crusader Jerusalem during the Middle Ages.

A number of these relics were destroyed during the Reformation; others were lost; some have been discredited; but many are still revered.

They make the archaeologists’ task in trying to establish the truth about the Easter story no easier. But perhaps that is no bad thing. For ultimately this is a question of faith as well as history.

In Jerusalem, as in religion, the faith matters more than the facts that we can never know for sure.

The mystery is part of the compelling nature of Jesus’s final days that ensure so many will celebrate Easter in churches and revere Jesus’s Passion all over the world tomorrow — and continue to do so for time to come.

 

The Trafalgar Crucifixion: Crosses put up under Nelson's Column as Christians around the world mark Good Friday

Actors captivated thousands as they recreated the dramatic moment Jesus was put to death on the cross in London's Trafalgar Square. The Passion of Jesus marked Good Friday and spectators were greeted with three full size Roman crosses at the foot of Nelson's Column as actors from the Wintershall Estate in Surrey portrayed Jesus' final hours and resurrection. Meanwhile, 24 devout Filipinos took re-enactment a step further having nails driven into their hands and feet watched by thousands of Catholics in a graphic reconstruction of the moment Jesus was put to death.

WARNING: GRAPHIC IMAGES

Gory: Actors perform The Passion of Jesus to crowds in Trafalgar Square today

Gory: Actors perform The Passion of Jesus to crowds in London's Trafalgar Square today

Three crosses nearly 14ft high abutted the base of the statue for the performance

Three crosses nearly 14ft high abutted the base of the statue for the performance

Actors performing the Passion of Jesus in Trafalgar Square, London England Trafalgar Square was packed with thousands of people who stopped to watch the Passion of Jesus on Good Friday

Show-stopping: Thousands watched as an actor playing Jesus was 'nailed' to the cross and whipped

The play was being staged free of charge with the aim of spreading the Christian faith

The play was being staged free of charge with the aim of spreading the Christian faith. The extreme display of devotion drew 10,000 spectators to San Fernando, near Manila. However, the practice, which aims to re-create the Passion of Christ, is criticised by the Roman Catholic Church, which believes it is a distortion of the Easter message. Meanwhile, in Syria, Good Friday and other Easter processions have been cancelled following violence in which a number of 'martyrs' have died, according to church officials.

 

Dozens of devout Filipinos had nails driven into their hands and feet watched by thousands of Catholics in a graphic reconstruction of the moment Jesus was put to death. The extreme display of devotion marks Good Friday and draws 10,000 spectators to San Fernando, near Manila. However, the practice, which aims to re-create the Passion of Christ, is criticised by the Roman Catholic Church, which believes it is a distortion of the Easter message.

Extreme devotion: A penitent grimaces as he is crucified on a cross during the Good Friday celebration in the Philippines

Extreme devotion: A penitent grimaces as he is crucified on a cross during the Good Friday celebration in the Philippines

Ouch: Nearly two dozen Filipinos were nailed to crosses to re-enact the passion of Jesus Christ but the Roman Catholic church thinks it is a distortion of the Easter message

Ouch: Nearly two dozen Filipinos were nailed to crosses to re-enact the passion of Jesus Christ but the Roman Catholic church thinks it is a distortion of the Easter message

Shocking: The crucifixion draws 10,000 spectators to San Fernando, near Manila, who turn out to watch the spectacle.

Shocking: The crucifixion draws 10,000 spectators to San Fernando, near Manila, who turn out to watch the spectacle. Thousands of international visitors and local Christians retraced Jesus' last steps down the Via Dolorosa, which is Latin for 'Way of Suffering'. The route ends at the ancient Church of the Holy Sepulcher, revered as the site of Jesus' crucifixion, burial and his resurrection two days later on Easter Sunday. Preparing to be crucified, Alex Laranang, a 55-year-old Filipino food vendor who cannot read or write, said he hoped God would help him win the Jueteng - a popular illegal lottery in the Philippines. The father-of-five said he had won three thousand pesos (£40) twice in the five years he had himself crucified on a cross.   

Painstakingly devoted: The feet of Maria Wendelyn Pedrosa, a female Roman Catholic devotee, are nailed to a cross in Manila

Painstakingly devoted: The feet of Maria Wendelyn Pedrosa, a female Roman Catholic devotee, are nailed to a cross in Manila

Bloody: Devotees whip their backs bloody to commemorate Good Friday

Bloody: Devotees whip their backs bloody to commemorate Good Friday

Philippines: A man portraying Jesus Christ falls to the ground after being whipped and kicked by actors portraying Roman soldiers

Philippines: A man portraying Jesus Christ falls to the ground after being whipped and kicked by actors portraying Roman soldiers

Gory: Hooded penitents flagellate themselves in front of a Catholic chapel in the Philippines in atonement of their sins

Gory: Hooded penitents flagellate themselves in front of a Catholic chapel in the Philippines in atonement of their sins

Cross to bear: Sri Lankan Catholic women carry a holy cross at a street parade during a Good Friday special mass in Colombo

Cross to bear: Sri Lankan Catholic women carry a holy cross at a street parade during a Good Friday special mass in Colombo. 'There's only one crucifixion that saved mankind,' said Angel Lagdameo, former head of the Catholic Bishops' Conference of the Philippines and archbishop in the central city of Jaro.  After playing Christ in the town's main re-enactment for the 25th time today, house painter Ruben Inaje said he wanted to retire in two years when he completes his third nine-year religious vow to carry the 50 kg (110 pounds) wooden cross. The colourful street play in Cutud village has been drawing thousands of curious foreign and local tourists as well as journalists, turning what should be a solemn Good Friday religious ritual into a carnival-like atmosphere. The town has built a hill with three crosses in the middle of an open field for the main ceremony, with crucifixions also taking place in nearby villages earlier in the day.         

Penitent: Two members of St. Christ the Saviour Brotherhood take part in a Good Friday procession in a beach in Valencia in eastern Spain

Penitent: Two members of St. Christ the Saviour Brotherhood take part in a Good Friday procession in a beach in Valencia in eastern Spain

Pilgrims: The annual Christian Easter pilgrimage to the Holy Island of Lindisfarne in Northumberland

Pilgrims: The annual Christian Easter pilgrimage to the Holy Island of Lindisfarne in Northumberland. Souvenir and food stalls surround the hill, with people selling ice-cream, sodas and water  among the crowd. The Church says crucifixions done to seek something from God are not Christian acts because they are self-serving and corrupt the message of Christ's suffering for others. More than 80 per cent of the Philippines population are Catholic.        

'For us, it is enough for Catholics to observe the church activities from Palm Sunday to Easter Sunday and comply with the discipline of Lent,' Monsignor Pedro Quitorio, spokesman for the Catholic Bishops' Conference of the Philippines, said. 

 

Christians were nailed to crosses in the Philippines today in a grim Good Friday reenactment of Jesus's suffering.

Thousands of people watched as 17 devoted Catholics were 'crucified' in the gruesome annual ritual.

Church leaders have condemned the practice which they believe are a distortion of the true Easter message.

 

Grim reenactment: Three Filipinos are nailed to crosses in a Good Friday crucifixion in Barangay Cutud, San Fernando. The event attracted a crowd of around 10,000 people

Grim reenactment: Three Filipinos are nailed to crosses in a Good Friday crucifixion in Barangay Cutud, San Fernando. The event attracted a crowd of around 10,000 people

Pain: A Filipino man has nails through his hands - and some more put through his feet as he is put on a cross in the reenactment. The event has been condemned by the Catholic church

Pain: A Filipino man has nails through his hands - and some more put through his feet as he is put on a cross in the reenactment. The event has been condemned by the Catholic church

Nine men were crucified in Pampanga province's San Pedro Cutud village today, while at least eight others were crucified in neighbouring villages.

The annual event - which dates back to the 1950s - drew an estimated crowd of 10,000 worshippers.

Many take part to atone for sins, pray for the sick or for a better life, or to give thanks for what they believe were miracles.

Agony: Woman penitent Percy Valencia has a three inch steel nail hammered into her foot in Paombong, Bulacan province, northern Philippines, today

Agony: Woman penitent Percy Valencia has a three inch steel nail hammered into her foot in Paombong, Bulacan province, northern Philippines, today

Horror: Percy Valencia, 41, is hoisted up onto a cross before being 'crucified' for a few minutes today

Horror: Percy Valencia, 41, is hoisted up onto a cross before being 'crucified' for a few minutes today

Ruben Enaje, a painter, 51, took part in the crucifixions for the 26th time today. He began taking part in the annual event to give thanks after he survived falling from a building.

'This is not just for fun or for money. This is a calling,' he told Filipino website Tempo.

He added that despite the crucifixions being condemned he still took part because the Church 'stay at home during Good Friday instead of reaching out to penitents to explain their side'.

Agony: Bobby Gomez grimaces as a nail is hammered into his hand in the Good Friday celebration

Agony: Bobby Gomez grimaces as a nail is hammered into his hand in the Good Friday celebration

Bloody: Jon Jon Tanael looks at the nail going into his hand as a man holds a rag covered in blood during the event. 17 people took part

Bloody: Jon Jon Tanael looks at the nail going into his hand as a man holds a rag covered in blood during the event. 17 people took part

'This is a spiritual vow as a way of thanking God for sparing my life.'

He had three-inch steel nails hammered into his palms during the ceremony.

The spectacle is a unique brand of Catholicism that merges church traditions with Philippine folk superstitions.

More than 80 per cent of the Philippines' estimated 90 million population are Catholic.

Bloody feet: Filipinos acting as Centurions carry a penitent with bloodied feet after he was nailed to a cross during a reenactment of Jesus Christ's crucifixion on Good Friday in Barangay Cutud, San Fernando, Pampanga in northern Philippines

Bloody feet: Filipinos acting as Centurions carry a penitent with bloodied feet after he was nailed to a cross during a reenactment of Jesus Christ's crucifixion on Good Friday in Barangay Cutud, San Fernando, Pampanga in northern Philippines

Close-up: Percy Valencia. 41, has a nail going all the way through her hand during the re-enactment today

Close-up: Percy Valencia. 41, has a nail going all the way through her hand during the re-enactment today

Agony: Percy Valerncia, 41, closes her eyes as she is put on the cross with nails through her hands

Agony: Percy Valerncia, 41, closes her eyes as she is put on the cross with nails through her hands

Grim: Dozens of people take photos as Percy Valencia is hoisted onto the cross

Grim: Dozens of people take photos as Percy Valencia is hoisted onto the cross

Passover: An ultra-Orthodox Jew holds a box near a fire burning leaven in the Mea Shearim neighbourhood of Jerusalem, ahead of the Jewish holiday of Passover.

Passover: An ultra-Orthodox Jew holds a box near a fire burning leaven in the Mea Shearim neighbourhood of Jerusalem, ahead of the Jewish holiday of Passover. It commemorates the flight of Jews from ancient Egypt, as described in the Exodus chapter of the Bible

 












THIS HOLY WEEK


Holy Week begins with Sunday of the Passion of Our Lord. Before 1955 this Sunday kwas known in the [[Roman Rite]n] simply as Palm Sunday and the preceding Sunday as Passion Sunday. From 1955 to 1971 it was called Second Sunday in Passiontide or Palm Sunday.

To commemorate the entrance of the messiah into Jerusalem, to accomplish his paschal mystery, it is customary to have before Mass a blessing of palm leaves (or other branches, for example olive branches). The blessing ceremony, preferably held outside the church includes the reading of a Gospel account of how Jesus rode into Jerusalem humbly on a donkey, reminiscent of a Davidic victory procession, and how people placed palms on the ground in front of him. Immediately following this great time of celebration in the entering of Jesus into Jerusalem, he begins his journey to the cross. This is followed by a procession or solemn entrance into the church, with the participants holding the blessed branches in their hands.

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Holy Week in Christianity is the last week of Lent and the week before Easter. It includes the religious holidays of Palm Sunday, Monday Thursday and Good Friday, and lasts from Palm Sunday until, but not including, Easter Sunday. Easter Sunday is the first day of the new season of The Great Fifty Days. It commemorates the last week of the earthly life of Jesus Christ as recorded in the Canonical gospels.

A penitent, representing Jesus Christ, participates in a re-enactment of the crucifixion of Jesus Christ on Good Friday in Mazatlan, Mexico, on April 6, 2012. (Reuters/Stringer)

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A Pakistani Christian girl attends Easter mass at St. John's Church in Peshawar, Pakistan, on April 8, 2012. (AP Photo/Mohammad Sajjad) #

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People watch as penitents carry a throne with a statue of Jesus Christ as they take part in the Sepulcro brotherhood procession during Holy Week in Malaga, Spain late April 6, 2012. Hundreds of processions take place around the clock in Spain during Holy Week, drawing thousands of visitors. (Reuters/Jon Nazca) #

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Penitents walk next to a design made with colored wood dust before a Holy Week procession on Good Friday in Antigua Guatemala, Guatemala, on April 6, 2012. The designs are made especially for the processions. (AP Photo/Moises Castillo) #

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British master chocolatier Paul Young places Easter eggs on chocolate bases before decorating them in the kitchen at his fine chocolates shop in central London, on April 5, 2012. (AP Photo/Matt Dunham) #

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Penitents light their candles as they take part in the Calvario brotherhood procession during Holy Week in Malaga, Spain, on 6, 2012. (Reuters/Jon Nazca) #

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A girl dressed as Virgin Mary walks during a peregrination at Patzcuaro municipality, Michoacan, Mexico, during Good Friday, on April 6, 2012. (Alfredo Estrella/AFP/Getty Images) #

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Catholics carry a statue of Jesus Nazareno during a procession known as "Jesus Nazareno of the tapes" during Holy Week in Cot de Cartago, Costa Rica, on April 4, 2012. According Jorge Masis, a priest of the church, this procession, where people tie ribbons to the statue to symbolize promises they make to Jesus during Holy Week, is a tradition that dates back 50 years ago. (Reuters/Juan Carlos Ulate) #

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Catholic faithful hold torches as they attend the "O enterro do Senhor" procession during Holy Week in Obidos, Portugal, on April 6, 2012. (Reuters/Rafael Marchante) #

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Volker Kraft decorates a tree with 10,000 Easter eggs in his garden in Saalfeld, Germany, on March 21, 2012. The Kraft family has been decorating their tree for Easter for more than forty years. (AP Photo/Jens Meyer) #

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A man holds palm fronds during an outdoor Palm Sunday Mass at the earthquake damaged cathedral in Port-au-Prince, Haiti, on April 1, 2012. Palm Sunday marks the day Jesus rode into Jerusalem, greeted by cheering crowds bearing palm fronds, and marks the start of Holy Week for Christians. (AP Photo/Ramon Espinosa) #

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Villagers take part in the burning of "El Judas" in the village of Villadiego, near Burgos, Spain, on April 7, 2012. "El Judas" symbolizes the negative omens associated with the village, and its burning means the village gets a clean slate for the fresh year. (Reuters/Felix Ordonez) #

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An employee controls the quality of colored eggs on March 30, 2012 at the egg dye factory in Thannhausen, Germany. During the Easter season, the plant produces around 180,000 hard-boiled and dyed eggs daily. (Karl-Josef Hildenbrand/AFP/Getty Images) #

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Women pray and sing on Easter Sunday service at an outdoor church on April 8, 2012 in Lilongwe, Malawi. (Stephane de Sakutin/AFP/Getty Images) #

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A masked Christian dressed as a devil, popularly known as "Talcigüin", participates in the celebration of an ancient local Catholic tradition that marks the start of Holy Week, on April 2, 2012 in Texistepeque, west of San Salvador, El Salvador. Talciguines pretend to lash Catholic faithful to cleanse their sins. (Jose Cabezas/AFP/Getty Images) #

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Worshipers lead by Rev. Richard Veras (left), Pastor at St Rita's Parish in Staten Island, The Most Rev. Nicholas DiMarzio (center), Bishop of Brooklyn, and Frank Simmonds (right), leader of New York Community of Communion & Liberation, march over the Brooklyn Bridge in the 17th Way Of The Cross procession on April 06, 2012 in New York City. (Michael Nagle/Getty Images) #

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Children run to collect Easter eggs in a park in Brussels, Belgium, on April 8, 2012, during an attempt to break the Guinness World Record for the largest Easter egg hunt. (Reuters/Laurent Dubrule) #

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The plaited mane of a horse is prepared for the Easter riders procession in Wittichenau near Bautzen, Germany, on April 7, 2012. Sorbians, a Slavic minority in eastern Germany, celebrate Easter Sunday with processions of mounted riders dressed in 19th-century outfits who travel from village to village to sing and announce the resurrection of Jesus Christ. Sorbians speak their own language, Sorbian, which is related to Czech and Polish, and maintain a culture rich in traditions, theatre, literature, poetry, education, media and crafts. Approximately 1,500 Sorbian men participate in the annual Easter riding. (Carsten Koall/Getty Images) #

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Actors take part in a Via Crucis (Way of the Cross) performance which commemorates Jesus Christ's crucifixion during Holy Week in Tanarandy, Paraguay, on April 6, 2012. (Reuters/Jorge Adorno) #

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Colored chicks are sold during the run-up to Easter in downtown Amman, Jordan, on April 2, 2012. (Reuters/Ali Jarekji) #

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Nadia Coppola joins pilgrims as they walk with crosses as the Northern Cross pilgrimage makes its final leg of the journey to Holy Island on April 6, 2012 in Berwick-upon-Tweed, England. More than 60 people, young and old, celebrated Easter by crossing the tidal causeway during the annual Christian pilgrimage. Every year people of all ages, from all over the world and from all realms of Christian life walk together at Easter to Holy Island. (Jeff J. Mitchell/Getty Images) #

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Penitents of the Cofradia del Silencio wait for the start of their cofradia's Holy Week procession shortly before it was cancelled due to the rain, on April 4, 2012 in Zamora, Spain. (Jasper Juinen/Getty Images) #

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A bloodied penitent lies on the ground on the eve of the Good Friday reenactments of the crucifixion of Jesus Christ in San Fernando City, north of Manila, on April 5, 2012. Despite the church advice to shun the practice, devout Filipinos self-flagellate as others prepared to be nailed to crosses as Asia's bastion of Catholicism gets set to mark Good Friday. (Ted Aljibe/AFP/Getty Images) #

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People stand around an Easter bonfire, an old German ethnic custom, in Elbingeroder, Germany, on April 7, 2012. (AP Photo/Gero Breloer) #

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A girl wears an angel costume during Blood of Christ celebrations at the Metropolitan Cathedral in Managua, Nicaragua, on March 30, 2012. (AP Photo/Esteban Felix) #

26

A young penitent takes part in the procession of the "La Pasion del Senor" brotherhood, during Holy Week in Pamplona, Spain, on April 6, 2012. (AP Photo/Alvaro Barrientos) #

27

People participate in a traditional procession of Good Friday known as "The Chained Ones" during Holy Week in Masatepe, Nicaragua, on April 6, 2012. (AP Photo/Esteban Felix) #

28

A penitent's hand is nailed to a wooden cross as part of a voluntary ritual to mark the death of Jesus Christ on Good Friday in the town of Paombong, north of Manila, Philippines, on April 6, 2012. Numerous penitents were nailed to crosses on Good Friday in this display of religious devotion. (Reuters/Romeo Ranoco) #

29

Catholic clergy walk holding candles during the Holy Thursday procession of the Washing of the Feet inside the Church of the Holy Sepulchre, traditionally believed to be the burial site of Jesus Christ, in Jerusalem's Old City, on April 5, 2012. (AP Photo/Bernat Armangue) #

30

Pope Benedict XVI holds a candle during the Easter Vigil on Holy Saturday on April 7, 2012 at St Peter's basilica at The Vatican. (Vincenzo Pinto/AFP/Getty Images) #

31

Romanian artist Lucia Condrea shows an egg she decorated at an exhibition at the European Commission headquarters in Brussels, Belgium, on March 29, 2012. (AP Photo/Yves Logghe) #

32

An actor representing Jesus Christ participates in a re-enactment of the crucifixion of Jesus Christ on Playa Delfines (Dolphin Beach) on Good Friday in Cancun, Mexico, on April 6, 2012. (Reuters/Victor Ruiz Garcia) #

33

Penitents of "Santa Cruz" (Saint Cross) brotherhood walk to their church during Holy Week in the Andalusian capital of Seville, Spain, on April 3, 2012. (Reuters/Marcelo del Pozo) #

34

Archbishop of York Dr. John Sentamu baptizes a local churchgoer in a water tank during an Easter Saturday ceremony in York, England, on April 7, 2012. Baptism of adults by total immersion is a symbolic ritual signifying a believer's death to their old life and a re-birth in Christ. (Bethany Clarke/Getty Images) #

35

Relatives untie rope from Feliciano Isaac after walking the way of the cross or "Via Crucis" at the end of the procession of the "Empalaos" in Valverde de la Vera, Spain, on April 6, 2012. Empalaos make the steps of the "Via Crucis", marking the Stations of the Cross, during the night of Maundy Thursday while bound by rope to a crucifix as an act of penance and to honor a promise made to the Empalaos Brotherhood and the Christ of Vera Cruz. The process of dressing the Empalao in the traditional costume is taken with great care, with the family and dressers paying attention to ensure that no harm is caused to the penitent and that they are aided in their recovery. (David Ramos/Getty Images) #

36

Pope Benedict XVI waves as he makes his "Urbi et Orbi" (To the city and the world) address from a balcony in St. Peter's Square in the Vatican, on April 8, 2012. (Reuters/Osservatore Romano) #

37

Women wearing traditional "mantillas" take part in the "Vineros" brotherhood procession on April 5, 2012 in Malaga, Spain, during Holy Week. (Jorge Guerrero/AFP/Getty Images) #

38

A Christian worshiper holds a cross made from bread as he prays in the Church of the Holy Sepulchre on Good Friday in Jerusalem's Old City, on April 6, 2012. (Reuters/Ammar Awad)

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The Mass itself includes a reading of the Passion, the narrative of Jesus' capture, sufferings and death, as recounted in one of the Synoptic Gospels.

Before the reform of the rite by Pope Pius XII, the blessing of the palms occurred inside the church within a service that followed the general outline of a Mass, with Collect, Epistle and Gospel, as far as the Sanctus. The palms were then blessed with five prayers, and a procession went out of the church and on its return included a ceremony for the reopening of the doors, which had meantime been shut. After this the normal Mass was celebrated.

 

Last week, Christians around the world celebrated Holy Week and Easter, commemorating the final days of Jesus Christ -- his return to Jerusalem, his crucifixion, and his resurrection. Families attended church services, hooded penitents took part in processions, and children hunted for Easter eggs. In Catholic passion plays, participants depicted Jesus' trial and death. Other local rituals drew heavily on earlier pre-Christian traditions. Collected here are images from several Holy Week and Easter activities this year. [38 photos]

a re-enactment of the crucifixion of Jesus at Our Lady of Sorrows Church outside El Santuario de Chimayo in Chimayo, New Mexico, on April 22, 2011. (Reuters/Jessica Rinaldi)

 

Joe Sanchez hangs on the cross during a re-enactment of the crucifixion of Jesus at Our Lady of Sorrows Church outside El Santuario de Chimayo in Chimayo, New Mexico, on April 22, 2011. (Reuters/Jessica Rinaldi)

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2

Franc Grom displays one of his special Easter eggshells drilled with more than 20,000 holes in Stara Vrhnika, some 50 kilometers from Ljubljana, Slovenia, on April 22, 2011. Grom, a 70-year old Slovenian craftsman, has been making Easter eggshells into ornaments for the last 18 years. (Hrvoje Polan/AFP/Getty Images) #

3

A boy prepares to leap over a bonfire during a folk festival called Chiakokonoba in Tbilisi, Georgia, on April 20, 2011. In keeping with ancient superstition, people purge themselves of evil spirits by jumping over the fire on Wednesday night during Holy Week. (Reuters/David Mdzinarishvili) #

4

A man plays guitar in the earthquake-ravaged Cathedral of Port-au Prince, Haiti, before the Easter Eucharist on April 21, 2011. (Hector Retamal/AFP/Getty Images) #

5

Penitents takes part in the El Rico brotherhood procession during Holy Week in Malaga, Spain, on April 20, 2011. (Jorge Guerrero/AFP/Getty Images) #

6

Pastor Doug Western leads his congregation in an Easter sunrise service at Kendale Acres Free Will Baptist Church in Sanford, North Carolina, on Sunday, April 24, 2011. The church is just about the only structure still standing in the neighborhood after tornadoes ripped through the area last week. (AP Photo/Jim R. Bounds) #

7

Penitent Ruben Eniaje holds up two of the custom-made three-inch stainless steel nails that will be used for his crucifixion on Good Friday in Cutud, San Fernando Pampanga, in northern Philippines on April 21, 2011. Dozens of penitents were crucified on wooden crosses on Good Friday as part of their annual reenactment of the crucifixion of Jesus Christ. (Reuters/Erik de Castro) #

8

Pope Benedict XVI holds a candle during the Easter Vigil Papal mass on Holy Saturday on April 23, 2011, at St Peter's Basilica at The Vatican. (Filippo Monteforte/AFP/Getty Images) #

9

A woman runs as men throw water at her as part of traditional Easter celebrations in Holloko, Hungary, 100 km (62 miles) east of Budapest, on April 14, 2011. Locals from the World Heritage village of Holloko celebrate Easter with this traditional "watering of the girls," a tribal fertility ritual rooted in the area's pre-Christian past. (Reuters/Laszlo Balogh) #

10

The Church of the Holy Sepulcher during the Christian Orthodox Holy Fire ceremony in Jerusalem's Old City on April 23, 2011. (Reuters/Baz Ratner) #

11

Before the the start of the Burlington Rotary Club and Burlington Bees Easter Egg Hunt, one-year-old Kinley Mathias rushes into the field of Easter eggs, chased by her mother Rachael Brown, on Saturday April 23, 2011, at Community Field in Burlington, Iowa. (AP Photo/The Hawk Eye, John Lovretta) #

12

A woman rides a decorated horse to obtain blessings for men and beasts at the St. George church near Traunstein, southern Germany, on Monday, April 25, 2011. The traditional procession has been held on Easter Monday for over 300 years. (AP Photo/Matthias Schrader) #

13

An "empalao" penitent takes part in the Good Friday procession along a street in Taxco, Mexico, on April 22, 2011. (Alfredo Estrella/AFP/Getty Images) #

14

On the eve of Holy Week, a girl wearing a penitent\'s hood takes part in a procession at a school in the Andalusian capital of Seville, southern Spain, on April 15, 2011. (Reuters/Marcelo del Pozo) #

15

Christian pilgrims pray at Church of the Holy Sepulcher during the Good Friday procession on April 22, 2011, in Jerusalem, Israel. (Uriel Sinai/Getty Images) #

16

A bungee jumper dressed in a rabbit costume dives to celebrate Good Friday in Kuta, Bali, on April 22, 2011. (Sonny Tumbelaka/AFP/Getty Images) #

17

In Croatia, penitents dressed as Roman soldiers hold helmets during a church mass in the fishing village of Sumartin on the Adriatic island of Brac on April 24, 2011. (Reuters/Matko Biljak) #

18

Coptic Orthodox Christians attend a mass on Easter Sunday in a church in Cairo, Egypt, on April 23, 2011. (Reuters/Asmaa Waguih) #

19

A statue of Jesus Christ is covered with a plastic sheet to protect it from the rain during the Good Friday procession in the northwestern Spanish village of Bercianos de Aliste, near Zamora, on April 22, 2011. (Rafa Rivas/AFP/Getty Images) #

20

The shadows of hooded penitents at the "el baratillo" brotherhood procession, part of Holy Week in Seville, Spain, on April 20, 2011. (Cristina Quicler/AFP/Getty Images) #

21

A penitent from the "San Gonzalo" brotherhood walks toward the church to take part in a procession in Seville, Southern Spain, Monday, April 18, 2011. (AP Photo/Emilio Morenatti) #

22

A child dressed as an angel lifts the veil over a statue of Mother Mary during an Easter mass outside St. Domingo Church in Quezon City, east of Manila, Philippines, on April 24, 2011. The traditional Salubong mass reenacts the meeting of the Risen Christ and the sorrowful Mother Mary on the dawn of Easter Sunday. (Noel Celis/AFP/Getty Images) #

23

A parade goer models her bonnet made of flowers during the 2011 Easter Parade and Easter Bonnet Festival on the Streets of Manhattan on April 24, 2011, in New York City. (Jemal Countess/Getty Images) #

24

Pope Benedict XVI holds a cross as he leads the "Urbi et Orbi" blessing in Saint Peter's Square at the Vatican on April 24, 2011. In his Easter message to the world on Sunday, Pope Benedict lamented that the day's joy was marred by war in Libya and urged Europe to welcome desperate migrants fleeing strife in north Africa. (Reuters/Max Rossi) #

25

Members of an Orthodox community take part in an Easter service at a church in the village of Poteryaevka, some 200 km (124 miles) southwest of the city of Barnaul in Russia's Altai region, on April 24, 2011. (Reuters/Andrei Kasprishin) #

26

A man performs as a devil during a Holy Week Via Crucis in Masaya, Nicaragua on Thursday, April 21, 2011. (AP Photo/Esteban Felix) #

27

A penitent takes part in the procession of "San Gonzalo" brotherhood during Holy Week in the Andalusian capital of Seville, southern Spain on April 18, 2011. (Reuters/Marcelo del Pozo) #

28

Belarus Catholics celebrate Easter in Minsk on April 24, 2011, during weekend Easter celebrations. (Alexey Gromov/AFP/Getty Images) #

29

People participate in "Los Encadenados," or "The Chained Ones" procession on Good Friday during Holy Week in Masatepe, Nicaragua on Friday, April 22, 2011. (AP Photo/Esteban Felix) #

30

Penitents take part in the "Signuri di li Fasci" Good Friday procession in Pietraperzia, a small town in central Sicily near Caltanissetta on April 22, 2011. (Marcello Paternostro/AFP/Getty Images) #

31

Ethiopian Orthodox worshipers celebrate the Holy Fire ceremony at the Ethiopian section of the Church of the Holy Sepulcher April 23, 2011 in Jerusalem's old city, Israel. (Uriel Sinai/Getty Images) #

32

Spanish legionnaires sing an anthem as they carry a statue of the Christ of Mena during the Holy Week in Malaga, southern Spain, April 21, 2011. (Reuters/Jon Nazca) #

33

An actor dressed as a demon whips a resident during a ceremony as part of religious activities to mark the start of Holy Week in Texistepeque, Santa Ana, El Salvador on April 18, 2011. Participants receive lashes from the actors, also know as Talciguines, as punishment for their sins. (Reuters/Luis Galdamez) #

34

Revelers hold flares during pre-Easter celebrations in the city of Agrinio, western Greece, late on Good Friday, April 22, 2011. The celebration, known as "saitopolemos" in Greek, dates back to Greece's 1821-32 war of independence against the Ottoman Empire. (AP Photo/Petros Giannakouris) #

35

Bernadette Saavedre walks along the side of the road as she makes her pilgrimage to El Santuario de Chimayo in Chimayo, New Mexico April 23, 2011. Thousands of people walk to the little chapel over Easter weekend, where they believe the dirt inside holds the power to heal, some from as far away as Mexico and Colorado. (Reuters/Jessica Rinaldi) #

36

Frank Simmonds carries the cross in the Way of the Cross procession over the Brooklyn Bridge on April 22, 2011 in New York City. The traditional Catholic procession on Good Friday recalls the crucifixion of Jesus Christ ahead of Sunday's Easter holiday. (Daniel Barry/Getty Images) #

37

A girl wearing a traditional mantilla dress takes part in the procession of "Gitanos" brotherhood during Holy Week in the Andalusian city of Malaga, southern Spain, April 18, 2011. (Reuters/Jon Nazca) #

38

A man prays on April 24, 2011 after an Easter mass was given by Abidjan archbishop Jean-Pierre Kutwa at the Saint Paul Cathedral of Abdijan, Ivory Coast. Abidjan archbishop appealed for "forgiveness, reconciliation and peace" among Ivorians in an Easter message read in all parishes across this sprawling metropolis. "Ivory Coast must be a land of friendship and brotherhood, whether you are Muslim or Christian, from the north or the south, black or white, from here or from elsewhere," he said in the wake of the recent post-electoral violence that ended April 11 with the arrest of former strongman Laurent Gbagbo. (Kambou Sia/AFP/Getty Images) #

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Christians around the world devoted themselves to ceremonies, parades and services during Holy Week. Catholic faithful touch an image of Jesus Christ during “Los Encadenados,” or “The Chained Ones” procession on Good Friday during Holy Week in Masatepe, Nicaragua. In Ecuador, hooded penitents, also known as ‘cucuruchos’ in Ecuador, walk during a Good Friday procession.

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Holy Week in Christianity is the last week of Lent and the week before Easter. It includes the religious holidays of Palm Sunday, Maundy Thursday and Good Friday, and lasts from Palm Sunday until, but not including, Easter Sunday. Easter Sunday is the first day of the new season of The Great Fifty Days. It commemorates the last week of the earthly life of Jesus Christ as recorded in the Canonical gospels.

In Focus: Holy Week around the World

1

A man disguised as an angel walks past two children during a Holy Week Via Crucis in Masaya, Nicaragua, Thursday, April 21, 2011. (AP Photo/Esteban Felix) #

In Focus: Holy Week around the World

2

Catholic faithful touch an image of Jesus Christ during "Los Encadenados," or "The Chained Ones" procession on Good Friday during Holy Week in Masatepe, Nicaragua, Friday, April 22, 2011. (AP Photo/Esteban Felix) #

In Focus: Holy Week around the World

3

A worshiper from "El Cerro" brotherhood reacts as the procession got cancelled due to bad weather in Seville, Southern Spain, Tuesday, April 19, 2011. Most of the processions were canceled on Tuesday because of the rain in Seville during the Easter Holy Week. (AP Photo/Emilio Morenatti) #

In Focus: Holy Week around the World

4

Worshippers of the 'Santisimo Cristo del Salvador' brotherhood carry the crucifix on their way to the beach during a Holy Week procession on April 22, 2011 in Valencia, Spain. Spain celebrates Holy Week, the last week of Lent and the week before Easter, with processions in most Spanish towns. (Photo by David Ramos/Getty Images) #

In Focus: Holy Week around the World

5

A child playing Jesus Christ is seen in a cross as he takes part in "Los Encadenados," or "The Chained Ones" procession on Good Friday during Holy Week in Masatepe, Nicaragua, Friday, April 22, 2011. (AP Photo/Esteban Felix) #

In Focus: Holy Week around the World

6

An inmate dressed as a Roman stands against a wall during the staging of the Passion of Jesus on Good Friday at the Reclusorio Oriente prison in Mexico City, Mexico, Friday, April 22, 2011. (AP Photo/Dario Lopez-Mills) #

In Focus: Holy Week around the World

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An effigy of Judas Iscariot hangs from a bamboo during Holy Week in Masaya, Nicaragua, Thursday, April 21, 2011. (AP Photo/Esteban Felix) #

In Focus: Holy Week around the World

8

A penitent drags chains tied on his feet during 'Los Picaos' brotherhood procession in San Vicente de la Sonsierra, northern Spain, Thursday, April 21, 2011. Hundreds of processions take place throughout Spain during the Easter Holy Week. (AP Photo/Alvaro Barrientos) #

In Focus: Holy Week around the World

9

Roman Catholic clergymen hold candles as they circle around the Stone of Anointing during the Holy Thursday ceremony at the Church of the Holy Sepulchre in Jerusalem's old city on April 21, 2011. Christians around the world are marking the Holy Week, commemorating the crucifixion of Jesus Christ, leading up to his resurrection on Easter. AFP PHOTO/GALI TIBBON #

In Focus: Holy Week around the World

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People pray during a Nazareno de San Pablo procession during Holy Week celebrations in Caracas, Venezuela, Wednesday, April 20, 2011. (AP Photo/Ariana Cubillos) #

In Focus: Holy Week around the World

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A man performing as Jesus Christ carries a cross during a Via Crucis on Good Friday in Bogota, Colombia, Friday, April 22, 2011. (AP Photo/William Fernando Martinez) #

In Focus: Holy Week around the World

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Orthodox Christian pilgrims take part in a baptism ceremony in the Jordan River, during Holy Week, at Qasr el Yahud near the West Bank town of Jericho, Wednesday, April 20, 2011. The site is traditionally believed by many to be the place where Jesus was baptized. (AP Photo/Ariel Schalit) #

In Focus: Holy Week around the World

13

A boy is seen next to Penitents from " La Amargura" brotherhood during a procession in Seville, Southern Spain, Sunday, April 17, 2011. Hundreds of processions take place throughout Spain during the Easter Holy Week. (AP Photo/Emilio Morenatti) #

In Focus: Holy Week around the World

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A man performs as a devil during a Holy Week Via Crucis in Masaya, Nicaragua, Thursday, April 21, 2011. (AP Photo/Esteban Felix) #

In Focus: Holy Week around the World

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Men disguised as Roman soldiers sit during a Holy Week Via Crucis in Masaya, Nicaragua, Thursday, April 21, 2011. (AP Photo/Esteban Felix) #

In Focus: Holy Week around the World

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A woman, accompanied by her daughters, looks on during "Blood of Christ" celebrations in Managua, Nicaragua, Friday, April 15, 2011. The celebration of "Blood of Christ" marks the start of the Holy Week in Nicaragua. (AP Photo/Esteban Felix) #

In Focus: Holy Week around the World

17

A penitent carrying a cross waits in the St. Agustin church to start the "Jesus Flagelado" brotherhood procession, during the Holy Week in Santiago de Compostela, northwestern Spain, on April 21, 2011. Christian believers around the world mark the Holy Week of Easter in celebration of the crucifixion and resurrection of Jesus Christ. AFP PHOTO / MIGUEL RIOPA #

In Focus: Holy Week around the World

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A faithful awaits the passage of the procession of the Jesus of Nazareth in the indigenous town of Izalco, 60 km west of San Salvador, on April 21, 2011. AFP PHOTO/ Jose CABEZAS #

In Focus: Holy Week around the World

19

A member of the Brotherhood of El Santo Entierro participates in the Via Crucis procession as part of Good Friday ceremonies in the town of Nahuizalco, 72 km west of San Salvador, on April 22, 2011. The procession remembers how Jesus was beaten, mocked and crowned with thorns before being crucified by the Romans. AFP PHOTO/JOSE CABEZAS #

In Focus: Holy Week around the World

20

People watch the Via Crucis procession of the Brotherhood of El Santo Entierro held as part of Good Friday ceremonies in the town of Nahuizalco, 72 km west of San Salvador, on April 22, 2011. The procession remembers how Jesus was beaten, mocked and crowned with thorns before being crucified by the Romans. AFP PHOTO/JOSE CABEZAS (Photo credit should read Jose CABEZAS/AFP/Getty Images) #

In Focus: Holy Week around the World

21

Men, one holding his daughter, carrying an image of Jesus Christ, not seen, participate in a Jesus de la Aldea San Cristobal procession during Holy Week in Antigua Guatemala, Thursday, April 21, 2011. (AP Photo/Moises Castillo) #

In Focus: Holy Week around the World

22

Women wearing the traditional mantilla are seen next to a man dressed as a Roman at the entrance gate of La Macarena church before taking part in a procession during Holy Week in Seville, Southern Spain, Thursday, April 21, 2011. Hundreds of processions take place throughout Spain during the Easter Holy Week. (AP Photo/Emilio Morenatti) #

In Focus: Holy Week around the World

23

A masked penitent, bottom right, walks on a street as he goes to the Church during 'Los Picaos' brotherhood procession in San Vicente de la Sonsierra, northern Spain, Thursday, April 21, 2011. Hundreds of processions take place throughout Spain during the Easter Holy Week. (AP Photo/Alvaro Barrientos) #

In Focus: Holy Week around the World

24

Several masked penitents are seen during 'Los Picaos' brotherhood procession at people look on in San Vicente de la Sonsierra, northern Spain, Thursday, April 21, 2011. Hundreds of processions take place throughout Spain during the Easter Holy Week. (AP Photo/Alvaro Barrientos) #

In Focus: Holy Week around the World

25

Hooded penitents, also known as 'cucuruchos' in Ecuador, walk during a Good Friday procession, part of Holy Week celebrations, in Quito, Ecuador, Friday, April 22, 2011. (AP Photo/Dolores Ochoa) #

In Focus: Holy Week around the World

26

A member of the Brotherhood of El Santo Entierro participates in the Via Crucis procession as part of Good Friday ceremonies in the town of Nahuizalco, 72 km west of San Salvador, on April 22, 2011. The procession remembers how Jesus was beaten, mocked and crowned with thorns before being crucified by the Romans. AFP PHOTO/JOSE CABEZAS #

In Focus: Holy Week around the World

27

A woman wearing the traditional mantilla holds her purse next to La Macarena church before a procession during Holy Week in Seville, Southern Spain, Thursday, April 21, 2011. Hundreds of processions take place throughout Spain during the Easter Holy Week. (AP Photo/Emilio Morenatti) #

In Focus: Holy Week around the World

28

Hooded penitents take part in the Procissao do Fogareu (or Procession of the Torches), a Holy Week procession in Goias, 350 km (217 miles) west of Brasilia, Brazil, early Thursday April 21, 2011. The procession is a reenactment of Christ's arrest in the Olive Garden. (AP Photo/Eraldo Peres) #

In Focus: Holy Week around the World

29

Greek Orthodox priests attend the traditional washing of the feet ceremony at the Church of the Holy Sepulchre in Jerusalem's old city on April 21, 2011. Christians around the world are marking the Holy Week, commemorating the crucifixion of Jesus Christ, leading up to his resurrection on Easter. AFP PHOTO/GALI TIBBON #

In Focus: Holy Week around the World

30

Faithful reenact the Good Friday procession along a street in Medellin, Antioquia department, Colombia on April 22, 2011. Christian believers around the world mark the Holy Week of Easter in celebration of the crucifixion and resurrection of Jesus Christ. AFP PHOTO/ Raul ARBOLEDA #

In Focus: Holy Week around the World

31

Two nuns escort a cross as they lead the Via Crucis (Way of Cross) procession celebrated in front of the Colosseum on Good Friday in Rome, Friday, April 22, 2011. The evening Via Crucis procession at the ancient amphitheater is a Rome tradition that draws a large crowd of faithful, including many of the pilgrims who flock to the Italian capital for Holy Week ceremonies before Easter Sunday. (AP Photo/Gregorio Borgia) #

In Focus: Holy Week around the World

32

A girl, disguised as an angel, plays during "Blood of Christ" celebrations at the Metropolitan Cathedral in Managua, Nicaragua, Friday, April 15, 2011. The celebration of "Blood of Christ" marks the start of the Holy Week in Nicaragua. (AP Photo/Esteban Felix) #

In Focus: Holy Week around the World

33

Hooded penitents flagellate themselves in front of a Catholic chapel Thursday April 21, 2011 at suburban Mandaluyong, east of Manila, Philippines. Hundreds of male penitents all over the country flagellate themselves on Holy Week in atonement of their sins, with more than a dozen others having themselves nailed on the cross to reenact the crucifixion of Jesus Christ on Good Friday. (AP Photo/Bullit Marquez) #

In Focus: Holy Week around the World

34

A penitents takes part in the El Rico brotherhood procession during the Holy Week in Malaga on April 20, 2011, in Malaga. AFP PHOTO/ JORGE GUERRERO #

In Focus: Holy Week around the World

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Penitents known as Cucuruchos walk to attend the Good Friday procession in Quito, Ecuador, Friday, 22, 2011. (AP Photo/Dolores Ochoa) #

In Focus: Holy Week around the World

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Faithful carry an image of Jesus Christ during a Holy Week procession known as "La Resena" in downtown Guatemala City, Tuesday, April 19, 2011. (AP Photo/Moises Castillo) #

In Focus: Holy Week around the World

37

A penitent carries a wooden cross during a reenactment of Jesus' Via Crucis, part of Holy Week celebrations, in Port-au-Prince, Haiti, Friday, April 22, 2011. (AP Photo/Ramon Espinosa) #

In Focus: Holy Week around the World

38

Penitents from "La Candelaria" brotherhood wait outside the church to take part in a procession in Seville, Southern Spain, Tuesday, April 19, 2011. Most of the processions were canceled on Tuesday because of the rain in Seville during the Easter Holy Week. (AP Photo/Emilio Morenatti) #

In Focus: Holy Week around the World

39

Palestinian Christian scouts carry wooden crosses during the Good Friday procession in the West Bank village of Zababdi near Jenin on April 22, 2011. Christians around the world are marking the holy week, commemorating the crucifixion of Jesus Christ, leading up to his resurrection on Easter. AFP PHOTO/SAIF DAHLAH #

In Focus: Holy Week around the World

40

A masked Christian faithful dressed as a devil, popularly known as "Talsiguin", approaches to kiss his girlfriend as he participates in the celebration of an ancient local Catholic tradition that marks the start of Holy Week, on April 18, 2011 in Texistepeque, some 84 km west of San Salvador. Catholic faitfuls are lashed by the Talciguines to clean their sins. AFP PHOTO/ Jose CABEZAS #

In Focus: Holy Week around the World

41

Christian pilgrims hold crosses on their way to the Church of the Holy Sepulcher, traditionally believed to be the site of the crucifixion and burial of Jesus Christ, during the Good Friday procession and the Way of the Cross, in Jerusalem's Old City, Friday, April 22, 2011. Christian pilgrims from around the world filled the narrow cobblestone streets of Jerusalem's Old City on Good Friday, some carrying large wooden crosses as they followed the route Jesus took on the way to his crucifixion. (AP Photo/Sebastian Scheiner) #

In Focus: Holy Week around the World

42

A penitent from the "San Gonzalo" brotherhood walks past a boy sitting behind a window before a procession in Seville, Southern Spain, Monday, April 18, 2011. Hundreds of processions take place throughout Spain during Easter Holy Week. (AP Photo/Emilio Morenatti) #

In Focus: Holy Week around the World

43

A woman carries a statue of the Child Christ before attending a Palm Sunday Mass in front of the Metropolitan Cathedral in Managua, Nicaragua, Sunday April 17, 2011. (AP Photo/Esteban Felix) #

In Focus: Holy Week around the World

44

A "Palmero" plays the horn as he holds a palm during the beginning of the Holy Week in Caracas, Venezuela, on April, 16, 2011. The "Palmeros" cut palms of the Warairarepano mountain to be used on Palm Sunday as part of the Holy Week celebrations. AFP PHOTO / Leo RAMIREZ #

In Focus: Holy Week around the World

45

A girl, disguised as an angel, is carried on the shoulders by her father during "Blood of Christ" celebrations at the Metropolitan Cathedral in Managua, Nicaragua, Friday, April 15, 2011. The celebration of "Blood of Christ" marks the start of the Holy Week in Nicaragua. (AP Photo/Esteban Felix) #

In Focus: Holy Week around the World

46

A woman delivers images of Jesus Christ during "Blood of Christ" celebrations at the Metropolitan Cathedral in Managua, Nicaragua, Friday, April 15, 2011. The celebration of "Blood of Christ" marks the start of the Holy Week in Nicaragua. (AP Photo/Esteban Felix) #

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