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Churches across Egypt begin the Holy Week

Churches across Egypt began the Holy Week on Sunday, lasting until Friday evening.

In the Monastery of Saint Demiana in Daqahlia, nuns covered the church in black after removing the white and scarlet colors – representing the stages of grief during the last week of the presence of Jesus Christ on Earth.

The curtains of the chancel were also changed from the familiar crimson red to black and closed, while black curtains with depictions of Christ crucified are placed on the columns and walls.

The nuns place icons that indicate the betrayal of Judas and the surrender of Christ to the Jews, and placed a booth in the middle of the church in front of the chancel with picture of Christ crucified hanged inside, and three candles around it, symbolizing the Old and New Testaments and the Psalms.

Next to the booth is a Bible stand with the Old and New Testaments readied for the necessary readings during the week.


Special measures

Churches impose special measures during the Holy Week including preventing greetings, changing the priestly clothing for prayer from white to black, and prevent kissing the hands of priests which is the usual salute given their religious status.

The churches divide the prayers into five daytime hours and the same at night. Day in the church begins from sunset to sunset of the next day, so the first day of Holy Week begins on Sunday evening, and prayers are distributed over the times of the Pascha.

The Archbishop of Damietta, Kafr el-Sheikh, and al-Barari, Bishop Marcus, said: “The Pascha rituals on Sunday, Monday, and Tuesday are similar, with some increases in praises and sad melodies, while events escalate starting on Wednesday night, as the Church prohibits handshakes and kisses in denouncing the incident of Judas’ betrayal and the agreement with the Jews to ‘Deliver Christ in exchange for some silver’.”

He added that the sign of Judas handing Christ over to the Jews “was him kissing Christ, and in denunciation of this incident, the Church prohibits handshakes and kisses from Wednesday night because it is the night of advice for the surrender, and this continues until the Great Saturday.”

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