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Jerusalem's Via Dolorosa empty due to coronavirus fears

The old city of Jerusalem is empty.

This is the Via Dolorosa, believed to be the path that Jesus walked to the crucifixion.

Normally a busy hub for visitors and Easter pilgrims, this year the cats have the run of the place.

Father Francesco Patton is a Franciscan friar for the Roman Catholic Church.

His order has outlasted seven centuries of hardship, including plague and warfare, at Church of the Holy Sepulchre.

(SOUNDBITE) (English) FATHER FRANCESCO PATTON, THE CUSTOS OF THE HOLY LAND FOR THE ROMAN CATHOLIC CHURCH, SAYING:

"Now it is a little bit sad to see that the Old City is empty and that in fact that nobody is able to walk the Via Dolorosa, but we know that in this moment so many people are walking a personal Via Dolorosa, because when I think to those who are in the hospitals and in the houses fighting with the coronavirus."

The Greek Orthodox, Armenian Orthodox and Roman Catholic authorities who share custody of the Holy Sepulchre, are faced with closures unprecedented in living memory.

In this they are no different to Jewish and Muslim leaders in a city that has sites sacred to the three monotheistic faiths.

And who all celebrate religious holidays in April -- Passover, Easter and Ramadan.