Orthodox Easter celebrations resonate across Greece and the world

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Millions of Orthodox faithful across Greece and the world celebrated Orthodox Easter on Sunday, May 5 this year.

In Jerusalem, the Holy Light – or Holy Fire – was lit in the Church of the Holy Sepulchre earlier on Saturday. As is the custom, it was taken to Greece and greeted at the Athens International Airport as an arriving head of state.

Nine Aegean Airlines planes and seven Sky Express planes then took the Holy Light to various destinations within Greece.

In Athens, the light arrived first, at 9 pm, at the Church of Agioi Anargyroi in Plaka, the seat, or “Metochi” of the Holy Sepulchre in Greece.

Greek Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis attended midnight Anastasi service on Tinos island, alongside his wife Mareva Grabowski-Mitsotakis.

In his Easter message, Mr Mitsotakis said “the Resurrection fills us all with hope, strength and optimism.”

“Tradition dictates that we spend these Holy Easter days together with our loved ones. Our thoughts, however, must be primarily with our weakest fellow citizens, those who more than ever need our support these days, but also to all Greek uniform personnel, those who day and night, and these Holy days, they are fighting so that we all can be safe,” he added.

Elsewhere in Greece, two churches in the town of Vrontados were lit up on Saturday night, as they fired streams of rockets at each other as part of an Orthodox Easter tradition. Throughout the annual “rocket war,” Easter Mass continues inside the churches on the island of Chios.

The spectacle dates back to the 1800s – when Greece was ruled by the Ottoman empire – but now rockets are used instead of cannons. Parts of the local area are boarded up with metal barriers, to try and protect them from fire damage.

In Rome, Pope Francis also extended Easter greetings to Orthodox believers gathered in St Peter’s Square, expressing warm wishes for their Easter celebrations.

“May the Risen Lord fill all communities of believers with joy and peace, offering comfort to those undergoing trials. I wish them a blessed Easter,” Pope Francis said.

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