In Jerusalem, air travel restrictions and quarantine regulations prevented foreign pilgrims from flocking to religious sites during Holy Week, which culminated in Easter celebrations.
In St. Peter’s Church, Pope Francis sprinkled incense near an icon of Jesus and said: “May the joy of Easter extend to the whole world.”
The approximately 200 believers who were allowed to attend looked lost in the cave-like cathedral. Usually thousands attended the service and a crowd gathered outside in St. Peter’s Square. More than 100,000 sometimes gathered to receive the Pope’s special Easter blessing after Mass.
But this year too, like last year, it is forbidden to gather crowds in Italy and in the Vatican. So Francis planned his midday address on world affairs to be delivered out of the basilica.
In an attempt to contain infections that lasted for weeks, the Italian government ordered people to stay home for the three-day weekend except for important errands like grocery shopping or exercise. Prime Minister Mario Draghi granted a concession. Allows one visit to family or friends per day in residents’ home regions over the long weekend, including Little Easter on Monday.
In Jerusalem, the Easter service was celebrated in the Church of the Holy Sepulcher by the Latin Patriarch Pierbattista, the high-ranking Roman Catholic clergyman in the Holy Land. In the old city of Jerusalem, many Christians believe that Jesus was crucified, buried, and raised from the dead.
Israel has launched one of the world’s most successful vaccination campaigns, allowing the country to reopen restaurants, hotels and religious sites. In a 1967 war, Israel captured the Old City, which is home to holy sites for the three Abrahamic religions.
In South Korea, the Yoido Full Gospel Church, the largest Protestant church in the country, allowed only about 2,000 members of the church to attend the Easter service, which is about 17% of the capacity of the main church building. Masked parishioners sang hymns, clapped hands, and prayed as the service aired online and on Christian TV channels.
Myeongdong Catholic Cathedral in Seoul, the largest Catholic church in South Korea, limited attendance at the mass to 20% and broadcast the Easter service on YouTube.
In Italy’s southern region of Puglia, the governor and many mayors urged believers to stay home and watch mass on television. The region is one of many in Italy that is subject to the strictest restrictions of the “red zone” due to the Covid-19 infection rate.
Attending an Easter vigil on Saturday evening is a popular practice for many in Italy. But with the nation under 10 p.m. Until 5 a.m. curfew, the churches have increased the traditional start times by a few hours. Church bells in Italy called unusually early for church services, which in some places rang before sunset.
A similar scenario played out in France, hit by a terrible surge in Covid-19 cases overtaking already congested hospitals. Some French churches held their traditional midnight services just before sunrise on Sunday instead of Saturday evening, as it was 7 p.m. nationwide. until 6 a.m. curfew.