Holy Week and Easter

Easter is the heart of the Christian faith. During Holy Week we enter Jesus’s last days on earth with Palm Sunday (commemorating Christ’s triumphant entry into Jerusalem on a donkey), Maundy Thursday (Christ’s last supper with his disciples and when he washed his disciples’ feet), Good Friday (when Christ was crucified) and Easter (when Christ rose from the dead).

On Maundy Thursday evening the Last Supper is re-enacted when Jesus washed the feet of his disciples; on Good Friday, for three hours from 12.00pm to 3.00pm, there is a reflection in words, music and silence on the meaning of his suffering and death; and on Holy Saturday the whole building is quiet through the day as we recall his resting in the tomb. Then darkness falls, and the cathedral community, together with hundreds of visitors, gathers at the west end of the nave for the lighting of the ‘new fire’.

With the Cathedral lit only by candles, the ‘paschal candle’, lit from this fire which symbolises Christ risen from the dead, is then taken in procession to the font where the great songs of Easter – the Exultet and the Gloria – are sung, and vows of baptism are renewed. On Easter Sunday morning, the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead is then celebrated in a great festal Eucharist.