Easter in Vatican
Vatican is the main town of all Catholics, a holy place and a shelter. Its territory is occupied by unique architectural structures: cathedrals, churches, museums, including the world famous Vatican Library and Sistine Chapel. The state has the mission to keep Catholic rituals and traditions, for this reason they give special consideration to Christian holidays, among which Christmas – the birth of Jesus Christ – and Easter – His resurrection after the awful death – are considered the main holidays.
In 2014, Easter falls on the 20th of April. However, the celebrations begin a week before, on Palm Sunday. On this day, all the faithful come to St Peter's Square and bring beautifully plaited palm branches, so that the Pope could dedicate them. The Italians keep these branches until next Easter. It is believed that consecrated palm branches protect their home and themselves from trouble and disease, give peace, prosperity and well-being. After the ceremony, the faithful go to St Peter’s Basilica, where a solemn mass led by the Pope begins.
During Holy Week in Vatican, divine services are held. On Maundy Thursday, the Pope commits the rite of foot washing, illustrating the episode of the Gospel, when Jesus washed the feet of twelve apostles before the Last Supper. Last year, for the first time in the history of the Catholic Church, the Bishop of Rome personally washed the feet of twelve young offenders in a Roman prison for juveniles.
After the mass on Good Friday’s evening, the Pope processions a town to Coliseum, that way symbolising the path of Jesus Christ to Calvary. On its way, the procession makes fourteen stops, as the great martyr did it two thousand years ago. At ten o'clock in the evening of Saturday, the clergy of St Peter's Basilica led by the Bishop are having Easter Vespers, which marks the beginning of the holiday.
In the morning of Great Sunday, the pope carries a solemn mass – Easter service. During the mass, they light a paschal candle. This is a huge handmade candle made of wax; according to the tradition, two letters of the Greek alphabet and the image of the cross are depicted there. Alpha and Omega symbolise the beginning of everything and the end of everything. The Pope indicates the date of the holiday. Other candles are lit from the paschal candle, which is kept in St Peter’s Basilica for fifty days until Pentecost.
The Pope’s speech is the conclusion of the Easter celebration, saying in front of crowds of the faithful, blessing and heading them off from the wrong way. Urbi et orbi message is a high point of the celebration, it attracts thousands of people from all over the world, both believers and those who honour the traditions of their countries.
During the Easter holidays, Vatican is crowded with people. Therefore, if you desire to discover the state and its attractions, you are advised to choose another time.
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