November 9, 2008 / 1:03 PM / 11 years ago

Christian fist fight at Jerusalem's Holy Sepulchre

JERUSALEM (Reuters) - Greek Orthodox and Armenian worshippers traded blows Sunday in the Church of the Holy Sepulchre, where Christian denominations jealously protect their hold over areas of the traditional site of Jesus’ crucifixion.

Israeli police moved into the shrine, which faithful also believe contains the tomb of Jesus, to restore order and said they arrested two clerics.

Dozens of worshippers, dressed in the vestments of the Greek Orthodox and Armenian denominations, traded kicks and punches, knocking down tapestries and toppling decorations at the site in Arab East Jerusalem.

The brawl erupted during the Feast of the Cross, a ceremony in which the Armenian community commemorates what it believes was the fourth century discovery of the cross upon which Jesus was crucified.

Fights are not uncommon in the Church of the Holy Sepulchre among the representatives of Christian denominations who are responsible for maintaining its different chambers.

Writing by Ari Rabinovitch; Editing by Matthew Jones

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