Breaking News
Ad-Free Version. Upgrade your experience. Save up to 40% More details

A Holy Land Easter season like no other - under the shadow of coronavirus

CoronavirusApr 19, 2020 09:20AM ET
Saved. See Saved Items.
This article has already been saved in your Saved Items
© Reuters. FILE PHOTO: An Orthodox Christian worshipper is silhouetted as he holds a palm frond outside the closed doors of the Church of the Holy Sepulchre on Orthodox Palm Sunday amid the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) outbreak, in Jerusalem's Old City

By Stephen Farrell

JERUSALEM (Reuters) - Orthodox Christians celebrated Easter in Jerusalem on Sunday, bringing to a close a holiday season uniquely devoid of the colourful ceremonies that would normally have echoed around the Old City's Christian Quarter.

From the moment in late March that the doors of the Church of the Holy Sepulchre slammed shut to the public half way through the penitential season of Lent, Eastern and Western churches alike knew that the most important festival in the Christian calendar would likely be marked without pilgrims this year.

That was the case, as Israel moved swiftly to curb the spread of the coronavirus with restrictions on public gatherings.

With Roman Catholics celebrating Easter on April 12, a week ahead of the Orthodox church, the Latin Patriarchate marked Holy Week without the usual Palm Sunday procession into the Old City accompanied by thousands of worshipers.

Instead. a handful of Franciscan friars led by Father Francesco Patton, the custodian of the Holy Land for the Catholic church, carried out lonely pilgrimages along a deserted Via Dolorosa, reciting, he said, "a special prayer for the pandemic".

After the Western church held their congregation-less Good Friday and Easter Sunday services inside the Sepulchre, it was the turn of the Eastern churches.

These were led by the Greek Orthodox and Armenians who share with the Catholics the main rights to the Sepulchre through an arrangement drafted under 19th century Ottoman Turkish rulers to ease centuries-old tensions between the denominations.

“The world today became united, east and west, to combat this pandemic. What I wish is that after we overcome this pandemic, we should unite to defend human morals and values,” said Greek Orthodox Archbishop Atallah Hanna after a downsized 'Washing of the Feet' ceremony on Thursday.

Two days later, with only tolling bells and a few clerics for company inside the cavernous Sepulchre, Greek Orthodox Patriarch Theophilos III carried out the normally cacophonous ceremony of the Holy Fire, symbolising Jesus' resurrection.

Jerusalem, which has sites sacred to Judaism, Islam and Christianity, must wait until next year to see if normality returns.

A Holy Land Easter season like no other - under the shadow of coronavirus

Related Articles

Add a Comment

Comment Guidelines

We encourage you to use comments to engage with other users, share your perspective and ask questions of authors and each other. However, in order to maintain the high level of discourse we’ve all come to value and expect, please keep the following criteria in mind:  

  •            Enrich the conversation, don’t trash it.

  •           Stay focused and on track. Only post material that’s relevant to the topic being discussed. 

  •           Be respectful. Even negative opinions can be framed positively and diplomatically. Avoid profanity, slander or personal attacks directed at an author or another user. Racism, sexism and other forms of discrimination will not be tolerated.

  • Use standard writing style. Include punctuation and upper and lower cases. Comments that are written in all caps and contain excessive use of symbols will be removed.
  • NOTE: Spam and/or promotional messages and comments containing links will be removed. Phone numbers, email addresses, links to personal or business websites, Skype/Telegram/WhatsApp etc. addresses (including links to groups) will also be removed; self-promotional material or business-related solicitations or PR (ie, contact me for signals/advice etc.), and/or any other comment that contains personal contact specifcs or advertising will be removed as well. In addition, any of the above-mentioned violations may result in suspension of your account.
  • Doxxing. We do not allow any sharing of private or personal contact or other information about any individual or organization. This will result in immediate suspension of the commentor and his or her account.
  • Don’t monopolize the conversation. We appreciate passion and conviction, but we also strongly believe in giving everyone a chance to air their point of view. Therefore, in addition to civil interaction, we expect commenters to offer their opinions succinctly and thoughtfully, but not so repeatedly that others are annoyed or offended. If we receive complaints about individuals who take over a thread or forum, we reserve the right to ban them from the site, without recourse.
  • Only English comments will be allowed.

Perpetrators of spam or abuse will be deleted from the site and prohibited from future registration at’s discretion.

Write your thoughts here
Are you sure you want to delete this chart?
Post also to:
Replace the attached chart with a new chart ?
Your ability to comment is currently suspended due to negative user reports. Your status will be reviewed by our moderators.
Please wait a minute before you try to comment again.
Thanks for your comment. Please note that all comments are pending until approved by our moderators. It may therefore take some time before it appears on our website.
Are you sure you want to delete this chart?
Replace the attached chart with a new chart ?
Your ability to comment is currently suspended due to negative user reports. Your status will be reviewed by our moderators.
Please wait a minute before you try to comment again.
Add Chart to Comment
Confirm Block

Are you sure you want to block %USER_NAME%?

By doing so, you and %USER_NAME% will not be able to see any of each other's's posts.

%USER_NAME% was successfully added to your Block List

Since you’ve just unblocked this person, you must wait 48 hours before renewing the block.

Report this comment

I feel that this comment is:

Comment flagged

Thank You!

Your report has been sent to our moderators for review
Disclaimer: Fusion Media would like to remind you that the data contained in this website is not necessarily real-time nor accurate. All CFDs (stocks, indexes, futures) and Forex prices are not provided by exchanges but rather by market makers, and so prices may not be accurate and may differ from the actual market price, meaning prices are indicative and not appropriate for trading purposes. Therefore Fusion Media doesn`t bear any responsibility for any trading losses you might incur as a result of using this data.

Fusion Media or anyone involved with Fusion Media will not accept any liability for loss or damage as a result of reliance on the information including data, quotes, charts and buy/sell signals contained within this website. Please be fully informed regarding the risks and costs associated with trading the financial markets, it is one of the riskiest investment forms possible.
Continue with Google
Sign up with Email