A drone's eye view of the Holy Land as Christians look to Easter
Photography byIlan RosenbergandReuters Photographers. Reporting byStephen Farrell.
Seen from the air, the fragility of humanity as it must have been in the Holy Land in centuries past is plain to see - ancient monasteries clinging to precipices, tiny fishing boats on the Sea of Galilee, deserts gnawing at the edges of towns.
For the Christian faithful, the Biblical journey and legacy of Jesus are written in stonework and monuments across the landscape, straddling modern political faultlines.
But modern pandemics, like ancient plagues, are no respecters of political and belief systems. For a year the Christian sites of the Holy Land, like the sacred places of Judaism and Islam, were under varying degrees of lockdown or restriction, and bereft of foreign pilgrims.
Left: The Basilica of the Annunciation in Nazareth in northern Israel. Right: Scouts take part in a Christian procession on the eve of the Feast of the Annunciation in Nazareth, northern Israel. This was the celebration of the announcement by the Archangel Gabriel to Mary that she would give birth to Jesus.
But on both sides of the Holy Land, as the Christian calendar progressed from Christmas to Easter, the faithful began to turn out again in greater numbers.
At the sites revered as places of Jesus’s early life and miracles there were cautious, masked celebrations.
But at the start of Holy Week, the huge medieval doors of the Church of the Holy Sepulchre swung open to admit churchgoers.
On the spot in the southern courtyard where he had stood despondently a year earlier, a more upbeat, though still masked, Latin Patriarch emerged from the church flanked by Catholic clerics and worshippers before heading to the Mount of Olives for the traditional, albeit reduced, Palm Sunday procession.
"We feel more hopeful that things will become better," Pizzaballa said. "The message of Easter is life and love, despite all the signs of death, corona, pandemic, whatever, we believe in the power of love and life."
PHOTO EDITING GABRIELLE FONSECA JOHNSON; TEXT EDITING Janet Lawrence