The city where Jesus was born recovered some Christmas joy this year, rebounding from seven seasons when few pilgrims arrived to celebrate Christmas there.
News – HCEF
Some 250,000 pilgrims arrived in Bethlehem this week, compared to only 65,000 last year, the mayor of the city reported.
The whole year showed a marked improvement, with some 1.2 million tourists, the greatest number since 2000 and the second Intifada.
The new patriarch of Jerusalem, Archbishop Fouad Twal, made a solemn entry into the city today at 3 p.m., local time. Twenty-three groups of Boy Scouts preceded him, marching through the city's narrow, ancient streets.
According to a report from the Custody of the Holy Land, "The pilgrims gather in silent prayer in the Grotto [where Jesus was born] at all times of the day, and this gives the day its atmosphere of intense prayer."