Jerusalem begins a Holy Week that, due to the restrictions that are in force to stop the coronavirus, it will be “something new that we have never experienced before and that asks us to find new forms of celebration», Advanced the apostolic administrator of the Latin Patriarchate, Monsignor Pierbattista Pizzaballa. To begin with, today the traditional one will not take place Palm Sunday procession, known here as Domingo de Palma or Sunday Palm, which is the first act that marks the beginning of the celebrations for the churches and commemorates the entry of Jesus into Jerusalem in the midst of a crowd that hailed him as the Messiah.
Those “new forms” include celebrating the most important masses and ceremonies, such as the Foot Wash or Calvary, in limited groups, of no more than ten people, in which the leaders of each church will appear, along with some monks and two professional chambers to carry out live broadcasts. This is the proposal that the representatives of the Christian communities put on the table of the Israel National Security Council and that they hope will be approved.
Same deal as the Wall
In Israel 42 people have died so far and there 7,589 infected, according to official data from the Ministry of Health. In the Palestinian territories, where most of the Christians in the Holy Land live, one person has died and the number of infected is 210. The Israeli authorities have gone tightening the measures with the passing of days and for a week the public prayers, with the only exception of the Wailing Wall. Unlike the Holy Sepulcher or the Al Aqsa Mosque, the holy place for Jews remains open to prayer, but with a maximum of ten worshipers at the same time.
This exception adopted with the Wall caused unrest among the churches of Jerusalem, which demanded the same treatment for the Holy Sepulcher, a place in which the Christian tradition marks the death and resurrection of Jesus and which is the center of attention of the community during the Easter week. Farid Jubran, a lawyer for Custodia Terrae Sanctae, the Franciscan body in charge of managing holy places, sent a letter to Israel’s Attorney General, Avichai Mendelblit, calling it “unimaginable that the holiest Christian places remain completely closed to worship, while this is allowed in the Wailing Wall ». For Jubran, this situation is “pure discrimination and restriction of the basic right to freedom of worship of a religious group.”
One of the most crowded ceremonies is that of Holy fire, that the Orthodox celebrate and that this year will be on Saturday, April 18. Thousands of faithful gathered that day at the Holy Sepulcher waiting for what they consider the greatest possible miracle, the arrival of fire directly from heaven. The Patriarch leaves the Edicule, where the tomb of Jesus is, with the “divine fire” in two bouquets of 33 candles, one for each year that the son of God lived, and that fire spreads among the faithful as a sign of good augury. Seven countries, including Greece, Russia, Georgia and Ukraine, have already announced that they plan to send planes to Tel Aviv so they can take some of that fire away. Due to the mandatory quarantine imposed by Israel on all newcomers, foreign leaders who come to receive the fire will not get off their planes, according to the Ynet portal.