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Greek Orthodox Patriarch of Jerusalem, Theophilos III, arrived at the Church of the Nativity in the West Bank city of Bethlehem on Monday (January 6) on the eve of the Orthodox Christmas.
He came to lead midnight mass at the Church of the Nativity, considered by many as the birthplace of Jesus Christ.
The Patriarch was greeted by marching bands at Manger Square. Residents and visitors enjoyed the Christmas festive atmosphere, some saying they hoped the new year will bring peace to region.
The Church of the Nativity is shared by various Eastern denominations including the ancient Assyrian Church, the Greek Orthodox, Armenian and the Coptic Church.
Leaders from the various churches arrive every year at the church to kick off their Christmas Eve celebrations.