Modest mass as Maundy Thursday ceremonies get underway in Jerusalem

Jerusalem, Apr 1 (efe-epa).- Maundy Thursday liturgies got underway in the Church of the Holy Sepulchre in Jerusalem with a local congregation permitted to return for Easter ceremonies, which were kept behind closed doors last year due to coronavirus restrictions.

With international travel bans still in place, a modest audience of around 150 people comprising local Christians and international residents of the Holy Land attended a mass delivered by Pierbattista Pizzaballa, the Latin Patriarch of Jerusalem.

The ceremony included the traditional Washing of the Feet, which commemorates the act of Jesus Christ washing the feet of his 12 disciples, according to Christian tradition.

Easter ceremonies normally attract crowds of pilgrims from across the world, but this year the Holy Sepulchre felt distinctly empty due to the pandemic.

Giuseppe Sgambeterra, one of the priests who took part in the mass, told Efe it was a shame that international pilgrims were unable to attend the ceremony, but added that the fact Holy Week could be celebrated “with open doors, with the local Christians, reminds us that little by little, everything will shine with life again.”

Today marks the first day of the Paschal Triduum, the three holy days of Easter. Good Friday commemorates the crucifixion of Jesus while Easter Sunday marks his resurrection, according to Christian tradition.

Maundy Thursday continues with a commemoration of the Last Supper.

The Holy Week ceremonies are taking place in and around Jerusalem’s Old City, regarded by the international community as Israeli-occupied Palestinian territory.

Israel’s rapid vaccine rollout permitted the resumption of religious gatherings.EFE-EPA


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