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Orthodox Christians Celebrate Holy Week In Rye

RYE, N.Y. -- The Greek Orthodox Church of Our Saviour in Rye will join 250 million Orthodox Christians around the world in celebrating Holy Week this week. The church will hold several services leading up to Pascha (Easter) on Sunday.

On Holy Monday and Holy Tuesday, the church will conduct the Service of the Bridegroom at 7 p.m. The services will include the Hymns of Repentance. On Holy Wednesday, members will be anointed with the Sacrament of Holy Unction at 7 p.m. This ceremony is intended to cleanse, renew and strengthen members both spiritually and physically.

The church will hold the Service of Holy Passion at 7 p.m. on Holy Thursday. The Twelve Lessons of the Gospel will be read, and a large crucifix will be carried in a procession led by clergy as a mournful hymn is chanted.

There will be two ceremonies Holy Friday. At 3 p.m., the Vespers of the Descent from the Cross will be offered, in which the body of Jesus is taken down from the cross, wrapped in linen and prepared for burial. At 7 p.m., the Lamentations are sung during the Epitaphios Service, which symbolizes the burial of Jesus.

The Easter Resurrection Service will begin at 11 p.m. Saturday. At midnight, the church will be completely darkened and members will wait for a priest to come forward with a white candle. The procession will move outside, where they will sing a hymn, "Christos Anesti," and red Easter eggs will be distributed symbolizing the resurrection of Jesus.

A service will be held Sunday at 11 a.m. with a reading of the gospel in several languages, which is meant to emphasize universality of Jesus's teachings.

The Orthodox Christian churches celebrate Easter on the Sunday after the first full moon of the vernal equinox. The holiday is always celebrated after the Hebrew Passover, which is intended to maintain the Biblical sequence of events. The Orthodox churches have strictly maintained this tradition since 325 A.D.

All services will be held at the Greek Orthodox Church of Our Saviour, 2195 Westchester Ave. E.

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