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easter sunday

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Christians from all over the world are gathering to celebrate Jesus Christ’s resurrection from the dead.

According to the Scripture, Jesus rose from the dead or came back to life three days after being crucified. It is marked as Jesus’ victory over death. The crucifixion of Jesus is commemorated on Good Friday, which is the Friday right before Easter.

Easter is celebrated as it signifies the rebirth of Jesus. His resurrection symbolizes the eternal life that is granted to all who believe in Him.

Easter is the biggest day of the year for the Church. It is indeed the day we build towards every year through the season of Lent and all the Holy Week services. It is the “Hallelujah Chorus” of Sunday worship services. On this day we celebrate the greatest news ever proclaimed, “Christ is risen”, victory is won.

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Orthodox Christians around the world are celebrating Easter Sunday.

While the majority of Christians celebrated Easter on March 27 based on the Gregorian calendar, for Orthodox followers who use the Julian calendar the date fell six weeks later this year.

Orthodox Easter also commemorates the resurrection of Jesus Christ and shares similarities with Western Christian celebrations.

Unique traditions from colorful eggs to palm fronds mark the holiday, which some refer to as Pascha from the Greek transliteration.Orthodox Easter 2016

The large celebrations and prayers take place across Orthodox churches after the end of Lent to mark the ascension of Jesus Christ to heaven.

There are approximately 200 million to 300 million Orthodox Christians around the world, with large followings in Eastern Europe and the Balkans.

Thousands of people visit Jerusalem every year to take part in Holy Week ceremonies and processions from Palm Sunday until Easter. It is traditional for palm fronds or willow branches to be given out and blessed at church services on Palm Sunday.

In 2017, the Gregorian and Julian calendars align and Easter will fall on April 16 for both Orthodox and Western Christian churches.

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Easter Vigil, also called the Great Vigil of Easter or the Paschal Vigil, is a service held in traditional Christian churches as the first official celebration of the Resurrection of Jesus.

Many Christians observe Easter Sunday a little differently than Catholics do.  For lots of churches, the peak celebration is Easter Sunday, maybe even a service at sunrise.

The Great Vigil of Easter, when observed, is the first service of Easter. It is celebrated at a convenient time between sunset on Holy Saturday and sunrise on Easter Morning. Easter Vigil


The Easter Vigil liturgy is the most beautiful liturgy in the Roman Catholic Church. This walks through the Easter Vigil, and includes the words to the Exsultet.

Although celebrated Holy Saturday evening, it is the dramatic Easter vigil liturgy that marks the beginning of Easter. We are awaiting our master’s return with our lamps full and burning, so that he will find us awake and seat us at his table (cf. Luke 12:35ff). All Catholics should try to attend this beautiful service. The vigil is divided into four parts:

  1. Service of Light,
  2. Liturgy of the Word,
  3. Liturgy of Baptism, and
  4. Liturgy of the Eucharist.

We have been preparing for Easter through forty days of Lent, culminating in the Easter Triduum:  Holy Thursday, Good Friday, and the Vigil of Easter on Saturday night.  All that waiting and preparation peaks when we gather on Saturday night for a solemn vigil.

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In the Catholic Church, Holy Saturday, or the Saturday of Holy Week, is the final day of the Lent and the day between Good Friday and Easter Sunday.

Holy Saturday is the final day of the Triduum, the three days during which we commemorate Christ’s Passion.

It is the day when Jesus lay in his tomb after his death, according to Christian belief.

Holy Saturday (from Sabbatum Sanctum, its official liturgical name) is sacred as the day of the Lord’s rest; it has been called the “Second Sabbath” after creation. The day is and should be the most calm and quiet day of the entire Church year, a day broken by no liturgical function.Holy Saturday

On Holy Saturday the Church waits at the Lord’s tomb, meditating on his suffering and death. The altar is left bare, and the sacrifice of the Mass is not celebrated. Only after the solemn vigil during the night, held in anticipation of the resurrection, does the Easter celebration begin, with a spirit of joy that overflows into the following period of fifty days.

Candles that are lit during Holy Saturday church liturgies symbolize Jesus Christ’s victory over death, as well as the Christian belief in his resurrection. It can also mean spiritual hope and victory.

Activities on Holy Saturday:

  • Today we remember Christ in the tomb. It is not Easter yet, so it’s not time for celebration. The day is usually spent working on the final preparations for the biggest feast of the Church year. The list of suggested activities is long, but highlights are decorating Easter eggs and attending a special Easter food blessing.
  • For families with smaller children, you could create a miniature Easter garden, with a tomb. The figure of the risen Christ will be placed in the garden on Easter morning.
  • Another activity for families is creation of a paschal candle to use at home. [youtube SuW5l0Nn4Ic 650]

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Pope Francis led his second Easter Mass and delivered the Urbi et Orbi message on Easter Sunday in front of tens of thousands of people gathered in St. Peter’s Square.

After leading the ceremony that marks the holiest day in the Christian calendar, Pope Francis delivered his traditional blessing and address.

The pontiff prayed for peace in Syria and Ukraine and “an end to all war and every conflict”.

And he also prayed for those people around the world suffering from hunger, poverty, disease and neglect.

This is the second Easter mass and “Urbi et Orbi” (to the city and the world) message Pope Francis, 77, has delivered as Pope.

Pope Francis led his second Easter Mass in front of tens of thousands of people gathered in St. Peter’s Square

Pope Francis led his second Easter Mass in front of tens of thousands of people gathered in St. Peter’s Square

The avenue leading up to the Vatican was filled with 35,000 flowers donated by the Netherlands.

“Help us to overcome the scourge of hunger, aggravated by conflicts and by the immense wastefulness for which we are often responsible,” Pope Francis prayed.

He appealed for more medical attention for those suffering from the deadly Ebola virus in West Africa and also prayed for the protection of the most vulnerable members of society.

Pope Francis asked God to “enlighten and inspire the initiatives that promote peace in Ukraine so that all those involved… will make every effort to prevent violence and, in a spirit of unity and dialogue, chart a path for the country’s future”.

“We pray in a particular way for Syria,” he said, expressing the hope that the “defenseless civil population” will be protected from the violence and get the aid they need.

In reference to Syria, Pope Francis urged the international community to “boldly negotiate the peace long awaited and long overdue”.

Pope Francis’ message came as Syria’s President Bashar al-Assad marked Easter by visiting the ancient Christian town of Maalula.

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People have gathered in St Peter’s Square for the Easter Sunday Mass led by Pope Francis.

After leading the ceremony that marks the holiest day in the Christian calendar, Pope Francis will deliver his traditional blessing and address.

People have gathered in St Peter's Square for the Easter Sunday Mass led by Pope Francis

People have gathered in St Peter’s Square for the Easter Sunday Mass led by Pope Francis (photo Reuters)

Pope Francis is expected to use his message to highlight the suffering of people in areas of conflict, including Ukraine.

The avenue leading up to the Vatican has been decorated with 35,000 flowers donated by the Netherlands.

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Prince William and Kate Middleton have marked Easter Sunday by attending a church service in Sydney.

The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge were greeted by cheering crowds outside St Andrew’s Cathedral in the city centre.

While at the cathedral, they signed the First Fleet Bible, which was brought to Australia in 1788 and bears the names of other members of the royal family.

Prince William and Kate Middleton then moved onto Taronga Zoo, where Prince George was introduced to a bilby, a rabbit-like marsupial.

Dressed in a blue striped shirt, blue shorts and black shoes, the young prince looked excited to meet the native animal, which was named George in his honor.

The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge were greeted by cheering crowds outside St Andrew's Cathedral in Sydney

The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge were greeted by cheering crowds outside St Andrew’s Cathedral in Sydney

Prince William and Kate Middleton then unveiled a plaque at the bilby enclosure, which was paid for by the Australian government to celebrate Prince George’s birth.

Earlier, the private church service was also attended by Australian PM Tony Abbott.

Archbishop of Sydney the Most Reverend Dr. Glenn Davies and Dean of Sydney the Very Reverend Phillip Jensen met Prince William and Kate Middleton on the cathedral steps before the service began.

The bible had previously been signed by the Queen and Duke of Edinburgh as well as the Prince of Wales and Diana, Princess of Wales in 1983 on their visit to Australia with an infant Prince William.

Prince William and Kate Middleton also signed the prayer book of the First Fleet – the 11 ships that carried Europeans to Australia in the 1780s.

Kate Middleton wore a dove grey Alexander McQueen coat and Jane Taylor hat for the service, while her husband wore a suit.

After the service, they spent time speaking to members of the cathedral choir and children who had gathered nearby to see the royal couple.

Easter’s Holy Fire ceremony has been celebrated at the Church of the Holy Sepulchre in Jerusalem.

The Holy Fire is considered a miracle occurring every year on Holy Saturday, the day before Easter Sunday.

Orthodox worshippers say the flame appears from Jesus’ tomb inside the church to show He has not forgotten his followers.

Thousands of Christian Orthodox pilgrims have celebrated Easter's Holy Fire ceremony at the Church of the Holy Sepulchre in Jerusalem

Thousands of Christian Orthodox pilgrims have celebrated Easter’s Holy Fire ceremony at the Church of the Holy Sepulchre in Jerusalem

The ancient church is believed to be built on the site of his crucifixion, burial and resurrection.

In keeping with tradition, Church of the Holy Sepulchre was unlocked by a Muslim family which has held the keys for centuries.

Meanwhile in Rome, Pope Francis called on Catholics to spread the message of God “to the very ends of the Earth”.

Pope Francis called on Catholics to recover “the fire which Jesus has kindled in the world and to bring that fire to all people”.

The pontiff was addressing followers at an Easter vigil Mass in St Peter’s Basilica on Saturday.

The Catholic Church’s main Easter Mass will be celebrated on Easter Sunday, the holiest day in the church’s calendar.

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In 2014, Easter in the US will fall on Sunday, April 20.

This year, Catholic Easter coincides with the Eastern Orthodox Churches that include Russian, and Greek Orthodox denominations that dominate across Europe.

In the West, Christians follow the Gregorian calendar which includes Roman Catholic, Anglican Communion, Protestant Churches and other denominations.

This year, Catholic Easter coincides with the Eastern Orthodox Churches that include Russian, and Greek Orthodox denominations

This year, Catholic Easter coincides with the Eastern Orthodox Churches that include Russian, and Greek Orthodox denominations

Eastern Orthodox Christians follow the Julian calendar.

In the West, Easter is celebrated on the Sunday following the Paschal Full Moon.

According to the Merriam Webster encyclopedia, the Paschal Full Moon was introduced in 1892. It falls on the 14th day of a lunar month occurring on or next after March 21 calculated by a fixed set of ecclesiastical calendar rules, without regard to the real moon.

The calculation for the Orthodox Easter is the same, except it’s based on the much older Julian calendar which has its own conventions of calculating equinoxes, the two dates in the year when day and night are of equal length.

In 2015, Western Christianity will celebrate Easter on Sunday, April 5.

In the Eastern Orthodox Christianity, Easter Sunday will fall on Sunday April 12.

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Pope Francis celebrates his first Easter Sunday since his election, with an open-air Mass in St Peter’s Square at the Vatican.

The Pope will then deliver an “Urbi et Orbi” address from a balcony of St Peter’s.

Easter is the most important festival in the Christian calendar.

At an Easter vigil Mass in St Peter’s, Pope Francis appealed to non-believers and lapsed Catholics to “step forward” towards God.

At an Easter vigil Mass in St Peter's, Pope Francis appealed to non-believers and lapsed Catholics to "step forward" towards God

At an Easter vigil Mass in St Peter’s, Pope Francis appealed to non-believers and lapsed Catholics to “step forward” towards God

“Let the risen Jesus enter your life, welcome him as a friend, with trust: he is life! If up till now you have kept him at a distance, step forward,” Pope Francis said.

“He will receive you with open arms.”

At the start of the service, the basilica was kept dark to signify Jesus’ tomb before what Christians believe was his resurrection. Pope Francis and the congregation held candles.

The service was shorter than usual, which the Vatican said was in line with Pope Francis’ preference for shorter Masses.

Pope Francis, formerly Buenos Aires Archbishop Jorge Mario Bergoglio, was elected on March 13, becoming the first non-European pope for almost 1,300 years.

He replaced Pope Benedict XVI, who held the office for eight years and became the first pontiff in more than 700 years to resign, saying he no longer had the physical strength to continue.

Pope Francis, 76, has already set a new style at the Vatican, reaching out easily to ordinary people and expressing his thoughts in a conversational way that is easy to understand.

He has surprised many of the clerics who work at the Vatican, eating in a communal dining room with other priests and clearly finding much traditional Vatican ceremonial tedious.

Rather than moving into grand papal apartments, Pope Francis has remained in a Vatican guesthouse, where he has been inviting ordinary people to morning Mass.

In the days before Easter, Pope Francis reached out to women and Muslims.

During a Holy Thursday Mass at a youth detention centre he washed and kissed the feet of 12 people, including two girls and two Muslims, and in a Good Friday procession referred to the “friendship of our Muslim brothers and sisters” in the Middle East.

After Easter, Pope Francis will have to begin tackling the key issues facing the Church, such as the Vatican bureaucracy, the future of the Vatican bank and the clerical sexual abuse scandal.

Vatican watchers will be keeping a keen eye on new appointments to key positions.

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Italy’s Rai TV broadcast for the first time images of the Turin Shroud, which is revered by many Christians as the burial cloth of Jesus Christ.

The linen cloth bears a faint brownish image of what appears to be a man’s body.

A smartphone app was also created to show digital images of the Turin Shroud.

Pope Francis contributed a message to the broadcast, shortly before he was to celebrate his first Easter vigil.

Italy's Rai TV broadcast for the first time images of the Turin Shroud

Italy’s Rai TV broadcast for the first time images of the Turin Shroud

The newly-elected Pope will preside over a vigil at St Peter’s Basilica on Saturday evening – ahead of the main Easter Sunday celebrations.

Thousands of people from all over the world are expected at Sunday’s Mass.

Viewers were able to watch live images of the 1.21 x 4.42 m Turin Shroud in a 90-minute programme on Rai TV from Turin Cathedral.

The images were also streamed on various websites.

In a video message ahead of the exhibition, Pope Francis said: “It speaks to our heart.”

The Pope described the cloth as an “icon” or an image but was careful not to authenticate as a genuine relic.

His predecessor, Pope Emeritus Benedict, also recorded a video message.

The shroud has never been officially recognized as authentic by the Vatican.

Rigorous scientific testing seems to indicate that the Turin Shroud was woven between 700 and 800 years ago.

But diehard believers say other tests prove that it could have been made at the time of the crucifixion – give or take a couple of hundred years.

The only previous – recorded – TV broadcast of the shroud was in 1973. It was last shown to the general public three years ago when Pope Benedict XVI travelled to Turin to view it.

The Shroud has been kept in the northern Italian city for more than four centuries.

It was taken there by members of the former Italian and French royal house of Savoy who originally acquired it in France in the belief that it had been brought to Europe by returning Crusaders.

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