ALQOSH, Iraq - An Iraqi man wearing a red-smeared white robe carried a wood cross through a small village in northern Iraq, one of many observances held to commemorate the Christian holiday of Good Friday.
Karam Alqoshy shared a livestream of the man’s journey through the town of Alqosh, which shows him also wearing a headpiece replicating the crown of thorns placed on the head of Jesus leading up to his crucifixion in the Bible. Good Friday commemorates the crucifixion of Jesus and his death immediately outside Jerusalem's walls. It precedes Easter Sunday and is part of Holy Week.
Church officials estimate that only a few hundred thousand Christians live in Iraq, down from nearly 1.5 million prior to the U.S.-led invasion that toppled dictator Saddam Hussein, according to the Associated Press.
Around the world, several other observances took place on Friday — though many predominantly Christian countries where the coronavirus is still raging observed their second annual Holy Week with tight restrictions on gatherings.
A screenshot of the video shows the man carrying a wood cross through Alqosh, Iraq on April 2, 2021. (Credit: Karam Alqoshy via Storyful)
In Jerusalem, many holy sites were open, thanks to an ambitious Israeli vaccination campaign. It was a stark contrast to last year when the city was under lockdown. In neighboring Lebanon, Christians observed Good Friday under a lockdown and suffering a severe economic crisis.
In Latin America, penitents from Mexico and Guatemala to Paraguay carried tree branches covered with thorns and large crosses in Passion Plays reenacting the crucifixion of Jesus Christ. At the Vatican, Pope Francis presided over a torch-lit Way of the Cross ceremony in St. Peter’s Square, foregoing for a second year the traditional Colosseum procession that draws thousands of pilgrims, tourists and Romans.
Worshippers in the Philippines and France marked a second annual Holy Week under movement restrictions amid outbreaks fanned by more contagious strains. In the U.S., officials urged Christians to celebrate outdoors, while social distancing, or in virtual ceremonies.
In Jerusalem's Old City, Franciscan friars in brown robes led hundreds of worshippers down the Via Dolorosa, retracing what tradition holds were Jesus’ final steps, while reciting prayers through loudspeakers at the Stations of the Cross. Another group carried a large wooden cross, singing hymns and pausing to offer prayers.
Religious sites were open to limited numbers of faithful. The Church of the Holy Sepulchre, built on the site where Christians believe Jesus was crucified, died and rose from the dead, was open to visitors with masks and social distancing.
This story was reported from Cincinnati. The Associated Press contributed.