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Saturday, January 23, 2021

A Holy Land Easter season like no other

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A Holy Land Easter season like no other
A Holy Land Easter season like no other

Jerusalem has witnessed an Easter season like no other, with the celebration of Jesus' life held under the shadow of a deadly disease.

David Doyle reports.

From the moment the doors to the Church of the Holy Sepulchre were suddenly shut to the public, it was clear that this would be an Easter season in Jerusalem like no other.

That took place towards the end of March, part way through the penitential season of Lent.

Since then, until Orthodox Christians celebrated Easter on Sunday (April 19) bringing the season to a close, Eastern and Western churches have had to adapt - making the most important festival in the Christian calendar comply with lockdown restrictions.

(SOUNDBITE) (English) FATHER FRANCESCO PATTON THE CUSTODIAN OF THE HOLY LAND FOR THE ROMAN CATHOLIC CHURCH SAYING: "We did, for this occasion, a special prayer for the pandemic” For Roman Catholics celebrating Easter a week ahead of the Orthodox church, Holy Week was marked without the usual Palm Sunday procession of thousands into the Old City.

Instead, Father Francesco Patten led a handful of Franciscan friars in lonely pilgrimages along a deserted Via Dolorosa.

(SOUNDBITE) (English) FATHER FRANCESCO PATTON THE CUSTODIAN OF THE HOLY LAND FOR THE ROMAN CATHOLIC CHURCH, SAYING: "For me the feeling was a great personal emotion, The responsibility to pray in the place in which Jesus conquered death, To pray for all those who are, in this moment, very in the face of death." After the Western church held their Good Friday and Easter Sunday services inside the Sepulchre, without congregations, it was the turn of the Eastern churches.

After a downsized 'Washing of the Feet' ceremony on Thursday (April 16), Greek Orthodox Archbishop Atallah Hanna said the world had come together, and he hopes it stays united to defend human morals and values.

Two days later, the normally cacophonous ceremony of the Holy Fire, symbolizing Jesus' resurrection, was held before the religious season came to an end on Sunday, behind close doors.

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