NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) — Christians around the world are observing Good Friday, commemorating the crucifixion of Jesus Christ.
Cardinal Timothy Dolan led a service at St. Patrick’s Cathedral before visiting the Coptic Orthodox Diocese of New York and New England “in a gesture of prayerful solidarity” following the bombings of two Coptic Orthodox churches in Egypt on Palm Sunday.
Many across the Tri-State area are marking Good Friday, the most solemn day on the Christian calendar, by participating in Stations of the Cross processions.
The traditional Catholic pilgrimage recalls the suffering and death of Jesus.
“Even the brightness of spring can’t suppress the sadness and the somberness we feel on Good Friday,” Dolan said. “Our savior died, the only begotten son of God died on the cross. If that doesn’t bring a certain amount of somberness, sadness what would?”
PHOTOS: Good Friday Around The World
Hundreds made the symbolic journey across the Brooklyn Bridge, from downtown Brooklyn to Lower Manhattan. The procession began at St. James Cathedral and made stops on the Brooklyn Bridge, City Hall, and ground zero before ending at Saint Peter’s Church on Barclay Street.
“Today is a day of remembrance, we remember Christ’s death and remember Easter he rises from the dead and gives us new hope,” Bishop Nicholas DiMarzio said.
“By walking the bridge we carry within us the pain, the suffering, the hope, and the certainty,” organizer Riro Maniscalco said.
The annual procession has grown exponentially from the 25 participants it started with back in 1996, now drawing crowds from around the world.
“This is a big city, you’re in the middle of traffic of everything but you just look at the cross and stay focused,” Italian tourist Simona Tarchiana said.
This is the first year heavily-armed counterterrorism officers are going along which for some, speaks to the importance of this year’s procession more than ever.
“The message is of forgiveness, because this is what the world needs today. We would not have wars, we would not have the calamities we have today, if nations learn to forgive each other and people come together in peace,” DiMarzio said.
“I see faith in the people around us in the city, the city is hurting and that’s where our Lord is,” participant Diane Wendelken said.
“For us as Christians this is a tough day to be contemplative and thinking about why we believe what we believe but to be together and do that so publicly is extraordinary,” participant Tim Herman said.
It was also a first for Sister Natalina Rotatori, who spent the past five decades as a nun on Staten Island.
“People told me about this beautiful service the church offered,” she said.
Others were also participating in a procession that starts near the United Nations and proceeds along 42nd Street and ends across from the Port Authority Terminal near Holy Cross Church.
Meanwhile on Long Island, an estimated 6,000 people, speaking a dozen languages, flock to the Shrine of Our Lady of the Island church in Manorville each Good Friday, CBS2’s Jennifer McLogan reported.
“This is a wonderful day of pilgrims coming through,” Father Roy Tvrdik said. “It’s wonderful.”
The Laudicinas, of Syosset, go every year.
“Something to instill in them value and tradition that they can use in their life,” Maria Laudicina said.
“Today I’m praying for my classmates,” Mastic teen Teresa Tran said. “For their safety.”
The “Stations of the Cross” there covered almost half a mile of hilly terrain. The most somber part of the day came between noon and 3 p.m., known as the three hours of agony, commemorating the time Jesus spent on the cross, McLogan reported.
“Today we do celebrate the passion of the Lord, and his gift of life and his death on the cross,” Tvrdik said.
Later, there were some lighter moments too, including recognition for those who walked the farthest and passion plays in full costume near the tomb.
“I am 83 and a half,” Suzanne Kelly, the oldest volunteer, said.
One volunteer even told McLogan that CBS2’s Maurice DuBois was an altar boy at the church many years ago.
A special “Way of the Cross” procession in Jersey City remembered victims of violence. More than 100 people from 15 churches walked the streets of Jersey City and stopped at 14 sites where people were killed or injured by gun violence. They prayed and sang in order to replace hate with hope and love.
The procession started where three teenagers were stopped and one was killed, and ended where a father of eight was slain.
Hundreds turned out for the Mass of the Lord’s Supper at St. Patrick’s Cathedral, where Dolan washed the feet of parishioners, just as Jesus did for his disciples at the Last Supper.
Catholics will celebrate Easter this Sunday.
(© Copyright 2017 CBS Broadcasting Inc. All Rights Reserved. The Associated Press contributed to this report.)