- Title: Hundreds welcome Orthodox Patriarch in Bethlehem
- Date: 6th January 2017
- Summary: MARCHING BANDS GIRL WATCHING BAND MARCHING VARIOUS OF CLERICS AWAITING ARRIVAL OF PATRIARCH PATRIARCH GETTING OUT OF CAR
- Embargoed: 21st January 2017 11:56
- Keywords: Orthodox Christmas Bethlehem Holy Land Jesus Birthplace
- Location: BETHLEHEM, WEST BANK
- City: BETHLEHEM, WEST BANK
- Country: Palestinian Territories
- Topics: Religion/Belief,Society/Social Issues
- Reuters ID: LVA0055XXYXQF
- Aspect Ratio: 16:9
- Story Text: The Greek Orthodox Patriarch of Jerusalem, Theophilos III, arrived at the West Bank city of Bethlehem on Friday (January 6), where he will lead Orthodox Christmas' midnight mass at the Church of Nativity.
A crowd of thousands gathered outside the church, believed by Christians to be the birthplace of Jesus Christ, and enjoyed marching bands and a festive atmosphere while awaiting the patriarch's arrival. The Patriarch was greeted by religious clergy, Palestinian officials and worshippers.
"It is a very nice feeling, in Gaza we don't have events like this. We feel the holiday atmosphere here and it is joyful. Happiness is all over here," said Vivian Jeldeh, a Gaza resident on a rare visit to Bethlehem.
"We say merry Christmas to everyone and hope that peace will be all over Palestine," added Bshara Banourah from Bethlehem.
The Church of the Nativity is shared by various Eastern denominations including the ancient Assyrian Church, the Greek Orthodox, Armenian and the Coptic Church. Leaders from the various churches arrive every year at the church to kick off their Christmas Eve celebrations.
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