Hymns through masks: Christians mark another pandemic Easter – WSVN 7News | Miami News, Weather, Sports
VATICAN CITY (AP) – The most joyful feast day of Christianity was celebrated worldwide, with believers being separated from each other in pews and choirs of “Hallelujah” by face-covering on a second Easter Sunday marked by precautionary measures against pandemics.
From giant Roman Catholic cathedrals to Protestant churches, believers followed coronavirus regulations. In some European countries, citizens stood in line at Easter to receive a COVID-19 vaccine.
In the Italian region of Lombardy, where the pandemic first broke out in the west, a hospital gave a traditional dove-shaped Easter cake to everyone waiting to be vaccinated, symbolizing peace. Many who came were in their 80s.
A soccer team in Lyon, France, opened their stadium as a vaccination center for the long weekend holiday. 9,000 people were expected to receive their shots there for three days as the French government tries to speed up vaccinations if infections recur.
In the Holy Land, travel restrictions and quarantine regulations prevented foreign pilgrims from flocking to religious sites in Jerusalem during Holy Week, which culminated in Easter celebrations. Pope Francis lamented that the pandemic had prevented some churchgoers from attending church services.
In St. Peter’s Basilica, the 200 or so believers who were allowed to attend looked lost in the cave-like cathedral. Usually thousands attended the Mass celebrated by Francis, and sometimes more than 100,000 people gathered outside in St. Peter’s Square to receive his Easter blessing afterwards.
But also this year, like in 2020, it is forbidden in Italy and the Vatican to gather crowds. Francis delivered his midday speech on world events in the basilica and took the opportunity to appeal again for vaccines to reach the poorest countries.
The Pope sounded tired when he realized that pandemic measures had affected religious holiday traditions and kept some believers from worshiping in public.
“We pray that these restrictions and all restrictions on freedom of religion and religion will be lifted worldwide and that everyone will be able to pray freely and praise God,” said Francis.
In Syria, where a national vaccination program has not yet started, Churchgoers of the Lady of Damascus Church prayed for a way out of the economic and political crisis that was only made worse by the pandemic.
“We came to church at Easter to get rid of the pandemic we are in,” said Bassam Assaf. “Of course we are not afraid of coronaviruses. It is reality we face, but it cannot stop us from coming to God and praying to get us out of this ordeal and help the world. “
A service in the Church of the Holy Sepulcher in the old city of Jerusalem was celebrated by the high-ranking Roman Catholic clergy in the Holy Land. This is the place where many Christians believe that Jesus was crucified, buried, and raised from the dead. Israel’s successful vaccination campaign has allowed many sites to reopen, including religious sites.
The pandemic prevented Seville’s Brotherhood of the Holy Resurrection from sending their ornate Easter cart with a towering statue of Jesus through the streets of the Spanish city. Instead, the Brotherhood posted videos and old photos from their last procession two years ago.
Some Pentecostal Christians in South Africa have canceled a three-day retreat starting on Good Friday. On the hills overlooking Soweto, a congregation in Johannesburg, Pentecostal Apostles gathered in small groups on Easter Sunday.
In South Korea, the Yoido Full Gospel Church, the largest Protestant church in the country, only allowed about 2,000 people to attend the Easter service, which is about 17% of the capacity of the main building. Masked worshipers sang hymns and prayed as the service aired online and on Christian television channels.
The Italian government was keen to contain weeks of infection and ordered people to stay home for the three-day weekend except for essential errands. The government of Prime Minister Mario Draghi allowed one day visit to family or friends in the residents’ home regions on weekends, including the national holiday on Monday.
Italy allows church services in the pandemic if capacity is limited and masks are worn. But early on, the many churches in the predominantly Roman Catholic country were only open for individual prayers.
Hundreds of Catholics gathered at St. Paul’s Mammoth Cathedral in St. Paul, Minnesota for the Easter Vigil service on Saturday night. Every other bench was kept empty and masks were mandatory. Nevertheless, after a turbulent year, the solemn liturgy was a new and hopeful beginning for the congregation.
After last year’s virtual Easter services, St. Patrick’s Cathedral in New York City was half full for Sunday mass. The faithful spread out in the domed neo-Gothic cathedral, which can seat more than 2,000 people. The choir sang through masks.
In Detroit, the Hartford Memorial Baptist Church reopened to in-person Easter services for the first time in more than a year, with capacity limits and social distancing rules in place. Rev. Charles Christian Adams told the Detroit Free Press that people need a church, especially after the ward lost at least 14 members to COVID-19.
Tonee Carpio said that being physically at St. Vincent de Paul Church in Austin, Texas means a lot to her after services were only offered online last year. She said being in church helps keep her Filipino culture alive in her city as some prayers are offered in her hometown of Tagalog.
“When you are in church, you become more solemn, you can focus on God,” she said.
In Florida, the Eastgate Christian Fellowship in Panama City Beach held its annual sunrise service on the beach. The church had to stop worship last year because all beaches were closed. Pastor Janelle Green estimated that around 400 people attended.
Robin Fox of Palm Bay planned to spend Sunday driving her mother to Orlando for a second dose of vaccine at a Federal Emergency Management Agency visit site.
“She gets that freedom the same day (people go to church) to celebrate that Jesus was resurrected, so I said (to her),” It’s like you were resurrected too, “said Fox.
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