As I started telling you yesterday, Thursday was Ascension Day for the Orthodox churches.
It was my first time to see the very old Chapel of the Ascension on the Mount of Olives and to experience four different liturgies going on at once, each in a different language.
Photo opportunities were so plentiful, I don't know where to start!
Maybe we start with pictures of the processions, so you can have a better look at the interesting faces and vestments.
From time to time the Greeks or Armenians or Syrians or Copts would leave their area of the courtyard and walk in procession into the chapel.
(You remember, they are allowed to pray here but once a year by the Muslim owners, and each group sets up an awning or kind of tent for their hours-long liturgy.)
You always knew when a group was exiting the chapel by the rhythmic tapping of the kawas' ceremonial staff.
Since Ottoman Turk times, they lead the way and clear the way for the Christian clergy.
The Arab kaswassim will get a separate post in the coming days.
They are sort of like the Holy Land version of the Vatican's Swiss Guard.
Here come the Greek Orthodox.
(Click on any photo, and then again on the photo that opens, to enlarge it. Enjoy the rich detail.)
This Armenian was leading the choir of the seminary students.
There seems to be almost no spoken word in the Orthodox liturgies, only singing/chanting.
These star-shaped things with little bells were also beautiful to hear.
The very old Syrian Orthodox church still uses Aramaic (mixed with some Arabic) for their prayers.
Indeed, if you closed your eyes to the lay people in modern dress yesterday and just focused on the look and sound of the clergy, you could imagine you were far back in the earliest Christian centuries in Jerusalem.