Pope John Paul II marked the Epiphany on Saturday with a call for greater unity among Christians.
“The solemnity of the Epiphany almost naturally brings our thought to our brothers of the Christian Orient, Catholics and Orthodox, many of whom today celebrate the solemnity of Christmas,” the pope told a crowd in St. Peter’s Square.
For Roman Catholics, Jan. 6 is the Epiphany, which recalls the Magi’s journey to visit the infant Jesus.
Because of differences in their religious calendars, many Eastern Rite and Orthodox churches celebrated Christmas Eve on Saturday.
In Bethlehem, about 2,000 Orthodox Christians marched in a procession to the Church of Nativity, the 1,600-year-old Church of Nativity venerated as the site of Jesus’ birth.