Christians around the world wore face masks and adhered to social distance guidelines during Holy Week
As the coronavirus pandemic disrupted the sacred Easter season for the second year in a row, Christians around the world wore face masks and adhered to social distance guidelines during Holy Week. State-mandated lockdowns meant empty or nearly empty celebrations in areas where people would usually assemble en masse due to continuing fears about the spread of the virus, which has killed nearly 3 million people worldwide.
In a barren St. Peter’s Square, Pope Francis presided over the Via Crucis or Way of the Cross ceremony at the Vatican. After religious gatherings were banned in metropolitan Manila and four outlying provinces, roads and churches in Quezon City were abandoned on Good Friday.
Many public areas, including religious sites, have been permitted to reopen in Israel, which has introduced one of the world’s most ambitious vaccination programs. A year after coronavirus halted all mass gatherings, nuns took a wide-grinding group selfie — masks down — on Jerusalem’s Mount of Olives on Palm Sunday.
With the arrival of spring in the Northern Hemisphere, many people found outdoor facilities to be appealing. People welcomed the dawn in sandy Easter sunrise services on beaches in New Jersey and Los Angeles.
Parishioners sitting in folding chairs took communion and prayed on the lawn of a Pennsylvania church burial grounds and in the shade of palm trees at a Las Vegas mortuary and cemetery. Roman Catholics stood in long rows, 6 feet apart, in the main square of Transylvania, Romania, waiting for their Easter baskets to be blessed.
Master of Pontifical Liturgical Ceremonies, Italian priest Guido Marini helps Pope Francis step down as he leaves after celebrating Easter Mass at St. Peter’s Basilica at The Vatican. (Photo: AP )
Due to health issues, many celebrations were held remotely, such as a Passion Play staged on a rooftop in a poor Rio de Janeiro neighborhood on Good Friday for residents to watch through live streaming or from their balconies. Pastors and parishioners were also cautious to maintain a discreet separation while services were held indoors, and disinfecting steps were taken in at least some places of worship.
Women wearing traditional veils known as mantillas prayed in racially segregated pews in a church in downtown Madrid. The Easter season in Spain was quiet, with authorities once again canceling Holy Week processions. A shop in the southern city of Seville was selling cloth face masks emblazoned with pictures of Jesus and the Virgin Mary, symbolizing a pandemic-affected world.