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A Cincinnati Good Friday tradition continues

It's Good Friday, a holy day of preparation for Christians around the world. In Cincinnati, it also means the return of an annual tradition.

If you've never heard about the annualGood Friday pilgrimage up the Holy Cross-Immaculata church steps in Mt. Adams, then as the saying goes: "You're not from around here, are you?"

It's a rite of passage for many and a yearly tradition for thousands of faithful. People began climbing at midnight, stopping on each step to say a prayer.

The church writes:

In the early days, the faithful climbed a dirt path until wooden steps were built, followed by concrete steps in 1911. Today, those visiting the steps can choose to begin from one of three locations: the upper steps, middle steps, or lower steps. The upper steps begin on St. Gregory Street just below the church entrance, and the middle steps begin on Columbia Parkway. The lower steps, which begin on Riverside Drive (formerly Eastern Avenue) across from the Montgomery Inn Boathouse, were repaired in 2009 and now feature wider steps, pedestrian-scaled lighting, and new landscaping and signage. There is also an improved pedestrian overlook at the top of the steps, just outside the main entrance to Immaculata Church.

In nearly 60 years Carolyn Bosch has missed just once when she had to be out of town to care for her ill mother.

"When I was eight years old a neighbor of ours took me to the pilgrimage," says Bosch. "I went there that day I thought, 'this is really neat because you feel like you're walking with Jesus to Calvary.' And that's why I do it every year."

The climb, Bosch says, feels like Easter. "When I walk the steps I feel like I'm with {Jesus}. I feel like I'm walking the steps with Him. And as I walk I pray; and as I pray I remember the people that have asked me to pray for them."

She'll particularly be thinking of a good friend who is missing the climb this year because of surgery.

The traditional Good Friday pilgrimage began more than 150 years ago. At midnight people started climbing the steps, either from St. Gregory Street or the very bottom of the hill near the Montgomery Inn Boathouse.

The church is open until midnight Friday.

Related events at the church:

Upon completion of the steps, visitors are invited inside the church to pray the Stations of the Cross at 6:00 p.m. or attend one of the two Passion Services to be held at 2:00 p.m. and 7:00 p.m. The Services include the reading of the Passion Narrative and Veneration of the Cross. Holy Cross-Immaculata parishioners will serve donuts and coffee from 6:00 a.m. to 1:00 p.m. and will host a traditional Fish Fry from 3:00 p.m. to 7:00 p.m.

Senior Editor and reporter at WVXU with more than 20 years experience in public radio; formerly news and public affairs producer with WMUB. Would really like to meet your dog.