(A Greek Orthodox bishop and an Islamic cleric attend a Good Friday liturgy at the Church of St. George Exorinos in Famagusta, northern Cyprus, April 18, 2014. REUTERS/Andreas Manolis )

Hundreds of Greek Orthodox pilgrims, some coming home after 40 years of forced exile, commemorated the crucifixion of Jesus in a rare Good Friday service in northern Cyprus on Friday.

Held in this medieval walled city in the Turkish part of the divided island, the ceremony at the 14th-century St. George Extorinos church was the idea of local authorities who invited the faithful from the Greek part of the island to visit. A local Muslim cleric joined the service in a sign of interfaith harmony.

The traditional procession of an icon of Jesus, which would normally be openly paraded through the streets of a Greek neighborhood, was limited to the church grounds for security reasons and guarded by a strong police presence.

“This is one of the happiest days of my life,” said Anna Marangou, a Greek Cypriot archaeologist and historian who lived in Famagusta until her family was forced to flee in 1974.