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Eastern Sects Mark Bethlehem Christmas

January 08, 1986|United Press International

BETHLEHEM, Israeli-Occupied West Bank — Two weeks after most Christmas pilgrims left Bethlehem, Eastern Orthodox Christians faithful to the old Julian calender celebrated Christmas on Tuesday.

The Orthodox sects celebrated Christmas Mass at midnight, replete with candles, incense, glittering robes and--as always--extremely tight security.

Joining the Greek patriarch, Diodoros I, on his traditional procession three times around the Church of the Nativity were Jerusalem Mayor Teddy Kollek and Bethlehem Mayor Elias Freij.

The midnight Mass was conducted by three sects--Greek Orthodox, Syrian Orthodox and Coptic (Egyptian)--simultaneously in different parts of the Church of the Nativity, the site where Jesus is said to have been born.

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