President Mahmoud Abbas expressed today his best wishes to His Holiness Pope Francis and all Christians around the world on the occasion of Easter.
“We extend our warmest congratulations to you on the occasion of the Easter, which comes this year with the world united in the battle against coronavirus (COVID-19), an enemy of a new kind that cannot be seen with the bare eye,” the President said in his letter to Pope Francis.
“It is the first time the Via Dolorosa Street is devoid of worshipers, and the Church of the Nativity, the Church of the Holy Sepulcher and the Al-Aqsa Mosque are closed, as well as all the churches and mosques of Palestine and places of worship around the world,” he continued.
The President added, “We stand with you, the people of Italy and the people of the whole world in this ordeal. We know that you will not forget to pray for Palestine and its people as well as the entire Holy Land, for God to protect it from this pandemic and get rid of the occupation.”
Yesterday, only a handful of priests celebrated Holy Saturday, known also as Holy Fire, at the Church of Nativity in Jerusalem following severe restriction on gatherings and movement due to the coronavirus outbreak.
Also on Friday, a handful of Franciscan priests led by the Apostolic Administrator of the Latin Patriarchate in Jerusalem, Archbishop Pierbattista Pizzaballa, marked Good Friday festivities that precede the Sunday Easter holiday according to the Gregorian calendar.
In normal times, tens of thousands of people would follow the path Christ took before his crucifixion known today as Via Delarosa, stop and pray at the various stations along the ally that ends at the Holy Sepulcher.