Tens of thousands of Christians from across the globe have flocked to the Holy Land in order to celebrate Christmas in Bethlehem. On December 24, Saturday huge crowds thronged the Latin Patriarch of Jerusalem’s annual procession route from the Old City to the Bethlehem where Lord Jesus Christ was born.
In this regard, in December alone at least 120,000 pilgrims were expected to arrive in the Holy Land, as Israel’s tourism ministry had stated. At the same time annual Christmas procession will be brought forward. This procession will be led by Archbishop Pierbattista Pizzaballa, the top Roman Catholic spiritual leader in the Holy Land. This procession is expected is scheduled to start at 11 am local time.
Later on Pierbattista Pizzaballa will deliver a midnight Mass in the Church of the Nativity, which is believed to mark the site where Lord Jesus Christ was born. Previously in a message from Jerusalem, Pizzaballa urged all to pay attention to the humanitarian tragedies in Syria, Egypt and Iraq. He said that “words are not enough” to curb such tragedies: “We must combat poverty and injustice.”
Archbishop Pierbattista Pizzaballa said “we must look to the child of Bethlehem and in him find ‘my brother’ and learn to accept the other in order to be able to build our lives with him. All the world, from the United States to Europe and especially here in the Middle East is broken, our heart is broken by violence, by violence, by hatred, and my wish is for 2017 is that we can rebuild our life looking at each other as brothers.”
On Saturday, December 24, annual Christmas procession in Bethlehem has been brought forward. The organizers fear bad weather forecast and said that weather can inhibit celebrations. This procession will start at 12:30 and end at 17:00 and wind its way through Bethlehem and end in the Manger Square which is next to the Church of the Nativity. Heavy rains are expected tonight have been predicted for tonight.
In connection with Christmas the Manger Square and the Church of the Nativity have been decked out in Bethlehem for the celebration, with the traditional Christmas tree and nativity scene in the middle. The Church of the Nativity is administered by the Roman Catholic Church, the Greek Orthodox Church and the Armenian Church.