Pilgrims Visit Bethlehem on Christmas Eve

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BETHLEHEM, West Bank, DEC. 25, 2004 (Zenit.org).- Several thousand pilgrims flocked to the traditional birthplace of Jesus on Christmas Eve -- crowds that were bigger than in the past few years.



Christian worshippers made their way to Manger Square, next to the Church of the Nativity, on Friday. Latin Patriarch Michel Sabbah of Jerusalem celebrated Midnight Mass in the adjacent St. Catherine's Church. Hundreds of people packed the church, the Associated Press reported.

With interim Palestinian leader Mahmoud Abbas and other dignitaries in attendance, Patriarch Sabbah called on Israelis and Palestinians to put the violence of the past behind them, AP said.