05 April 2018

Holy Week of Orthodox Christians in Jerusalem

The Holy Week celebrations of Orthodox Christians who have come to Jerusalem on pilgrimage from all over the world.

Christians in the Holy Land

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For several centuries, differing Christian Orthodox and Western Christian liturgical calendars, each involving moveable feasts, have meant that their Easter celebrations have not coincided, as was the case last year. This year there is once again a difference, so while the Latin or Western Catholic Church celebrated the Resurrection on April 1st, the Eastern Churches are approaching Easter, bringing pilgrims from all over the World to the narrow street streets of Jerusalem’s Old City.

"This is my first visit to Jerusalem, and I ‘m very happy! Every holy place I’ve seen has brought Scripture to mind.”

"I was here in 2014, so this is my second visit, and it’s also a beautiful experience! It is a great blessing for me to be able to set foot in the Holy Land, which is rich in wonder and beauty! Some people have asked me to light candles and pray for them, so and I am here for them too.”

"I simply can’t describe my feelings! This year I’ve decided to spend Holy Week only in the church of the Holy Sepulcher. I don't want to be anywhere else".

On April 5th, dozens of pilgrims gathered in the courtyard of the Basilica of the Holy Sepulcher to celebrate Holy Thursday.

Greek Christians were at a Mass presided over, in the nearby Chapel of St James the Just, by Theophilus III, the Greek Orthodox Patriarch of Jerusalem. Many commemorated the Last Supper of Jesus, with his disciples, before his arrest and the beginning of his Passion.

After Mass, the bishops and priests moved into the Basilica courtyard, with many of the faithful, for the ceremonial washing of feet, on a stage set up for the occasion.

The Patriarch followed the initiative of Jesus, washing the feet of twelve priests of the Brotherhood of the Holy Sepulcher, and recalling the Savior’s words: "I have given you this example, so that you may do likewise.” (John 13:15)

A humble gesture, inviting identification with the experience of Jesus, as well as his disciples, in the Passion, Death and Resurrection.

"I am here for the first time, and now I want to return to the Holy Land every year, because the greatest blessing is to share in the sadness which Christ knew.”