Thousands of candles are lit as 260 million Orthodox Christians mark Easter in Julian calendar


Orthodox Christians around the globe are celebrating Easter today, with thousands lighting candles at services in their community.

In Istanbul, Turkey, people attend an Easter Resurrection Service at the Church of Fener Orthodox Patriarchate.

The Patriarchate is the centre of Greek Orthodox Christianity, which has a religious population of around 260 million people worldwide.

A service at the the Patriarchal Church of St. George was conducted by Greek Orthodox Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew I of Constantinople, regarded as the spiritual leader of Eastern Orthodox Christians. 

Orthodox worshippers light candles during an Easter Resurrection Service in Istanbul, Turkey

The service at the Church of Fener Orthodox Patriarchate is conducted by Greek Orthodox Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew I of Constantinople

The service at the Church of Fener Orthodox Patriarchate is conducted by Greek Orthodox Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew I of Constantinople

Ecumenical patriarch Bartholomew I of Constantinople, spiritual leader of Greek Orthodox world, officiates the Easter ceremony at the St. George Church 

A woman lights a candle and places it in the sand during the service

A woman lights a candle and places it in the sand during the service

Worshippers leave lit candles as part of the service, at the Church of Fener Orthodox Patriarchate

Worshippers leave lit candles as part of the service, at the Church of Fener Orthodox Patriarchate

A woman wearing a headscarf stands illuminated by the candle she cradles, in a crowd in Istanbul

A woman wearing a headscarf stands illuminated by the candle she cradles, in a crowd in Istanbul

Crowds gather together with candles as they mark the religious day in the Julian calendar

Crowds gather together with candles as they mark the religious day in the Julian calendar

Standing shoulder to shoulder, worshippers congregate for the Easter service

Standing shoulder to shoulder, worshippers congregate for the Easter service

Based at the Church of Fener Orthodox Patriarchate, Greek Orthodox Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew I of Constantinople conducts the service

Based at the Church of Fener Orthodox Patriarchate, Greek Orthodox Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew I of Constantinople conducts the service

IRAQ: Iraqi Orthodox Christians celebrating Easter Saturday light candles at the church of the ancient Mor Mattai Monastery in Bashiqa, some 30km northeast of the northern Iraqi city of Mosul

IRAQ: Iraqi Orthodox Christians celebrating Easter Saturday light candles at the church of the ancient Mor Mattai Monastery in Bashiqa, some 30km northeast of the northern Iraqi city of Mosul

An evening celebration on Easter Saturday sees crowds gather at the ancient Mor Mattai Monastery in Bashiqa

An evening celebration on Easter Saturday sees crowds gather at the ancient Mor Mattai Monastery in Bashiqa

Iraqi Orthodox Christians attend the Easter service in the village of Bashiqa, northeast Mosul

Iraqi Orthodox Christians attend the Easter service in the village of Bashiqa, northeast Mosul

Hordes of people gather to celebrate Easter Saturday at the church of the ancient Mor Mattai Monastery

Hordes of people gather to celebrate Easter Saturday at the church of the ancient Mor Mattai Monastery

POLAND: Greek Catholic priests celebrate the Easter Sunday Mass at the Catholic Cathedral of St John the Baptist in Przemysl, southeastern Poland

POLAND: Greek Catholic priests celebrate the Easter Sunday Mass at the Catholic Cathedral of St John the Baptist in Przemysl, southeastern Poland

Candles are lit at the Easter service at St John the Baptist in Przemysl, southeastern Poland

Candles are lit at the Easter service at St John the Baptist in Przemysl, southeastern Poland

Metropolitan of Przemysl-Warsaw Greek Catholic Archbishop Eugeniusz Popowicz (R) celebrate the Easter Sunday Mass

Metropolitan of Przemysl-Warsaw Greek Catholic Archbishop Eugeniusz Popowicz (R) celebrate the Easter Sunday Mass

Russia and Ukraine both marked Orthodox Easter today, with pictures showing Vladimir Putin in a Moscow church as his army’s missiles continued to rain down on Ukrainian civilians across the country.

The Russian strongman attended the midnight mass at the capital’s vast Christ the Saviour Cathedral, that sits close to the Kremlin.

Putin held a lit candle and when Patriarch Kirill – head of the Russian Orthodox Church – said ‘Christ has risen’, Putin joined other worshippers with the reply ‘Truly he is risen’.

Across the border, just 280 miles from Moscow, the same words were spoken by people in Ukraine as the embattled nation also marked Orthodox Easter, in some cases in the ruins of churches destroyed by Russian shells.

In the capital of Kyiv, prayers were held for those fighting on the front lines and others trapped beyond them in places like Mariupol.

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky vowed in an Easter message that no ‘wickedness’ will destroy the country and prayed that God returns happiness to children and brings solace to grieving mothers. 

MOSCOW: Russian President Vladimir Putin attends the Orthodox Easter service in the Christ the Savior Cathedral in Moscow, Russia

MOSCOW: Russian President Vladimir Putin attends the Orthodox Easter service in the Christ the Savior Cathedral in Moscow, Russia

The service is led by Patriarch Kirill, head of the Russian Orthodox Church

The service is led by Patriarch Kirill, head of the Russian Orthodox Church

Russian President Vladimir Putin (pictured in the background) and Moscow's Mayor Sergei Sobyanin (to Putin's right) attend Orthodox Easter mass led by Russian Orthodox Patriarch Kirill (walking down the stairs) at the Christ The Saviour Cathedral

Russian President Vladimir Putin (pictured in the background) and Moscow’s Mayor Sergei Sobyanin (to Putin’s right) attend Orthodox Easter mass led by Russian Orthodox Patriarch Kirill (walking down the stairs) at the Christ The Saviour Cathedral

Russian Orthodox Patriarch Kirill holds candles representing the Holly Light with during the service

Russian Orthodox Patriarch Kirill holds candles representing the Holly Light with during the service

Believers cross themselves during the Orthodox Easter service in the Christ the Savior Cathedral in Moscow

Believers cross themselves during the Orthodox Easter service in the Christ the Savior Cathedral in Moscow

Worshippers attend the Orthodox Easter service at the Cathedral of Christ the Saviour in Moscow

Worshippers attend the Orthodox Easter service at the Cathedral of Christ the Saviour in Moscow

Priest Nikolai Gensitsky sprinkles holy water on traditional Easter cakes and eggs during the Orthodox Easter service in a church in the village of Yekaterininskoye in Omsk Region, Russia

Priest Nikolai Gensitsky sprinkles holy water on traditional Easter cakes and eggs during the Orthodox Easter service in a church in the village of Yekaterininskoye in Omsk Region, Russia

Believers attend the Orthodox Easter service in a church in the village of Yekaterininskoye in Omsk Region, Russia

Believers attend the Orthodox Easter service in a church in the village of Yekaterininskoye in Omsk Region, Russia

More Easter food baskets are blessed during the church service of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church community

More Easter food baskets are blessed during the church service of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church community

A clergyman attends the Orthodox Easter service in a church in the village of Yekaterininskoye in Omsk Region, Russia

A clergyman attends the Orthodox Easter service in a church in the village of Yekaterininskoye in Omsk Region, Russia

Choristers sing during the Orthodox Easter service in a church in the village of Yekaterininskoye in Omsk Region, Russia

Choristers sing during the Orthodox Easter service in a church in the village of Yekaterininskoye in Omsk Region, Russia

Priest Nikolai Gensitsky blesses traditional Easter cakes and eggs during the Orthodox Easter celebrations in the village of Nagornoye in Omsk Region, Russia

Priest Nikolai Gensitsky blesses traditional Easter cakes and eggs during the Orthodox Easter celebrations in the village of Nagornoye in Omsk Region, Russia

In a video address from one of the country’s best known landmarks, the 1,000-year-old Saint Sophia Cathedral in Kyiv, President Volodymyr Zelensky said Ukraine will overcome the darkness that Russia’s invasion had brought upon it.

‘Today, we still believe in the new victory of Ukraine and we are all convinced that we will not be destroyed by any horde or wickedness,’ said Zelensky.

‘We are overcoming dark times and on this day I – and most of us – are not in bright clothes, but we are fighting for a luminous idea.’

Ukraine’s St. Volodymyr’s Cathedral – also in Kyiv – was ringed by hundreds of worshipers with baskets to be blessed.

KYIV: Ukraine's President Volodymyr Zelensky addresses Ukrainian people with Orthodox Easter message, as Russia's attack continues, at the Saint Sophia cathedral, April 23

KYIV: Ukraine’s President Volodymyr Zelensky addresses Ukrainian people with Orthodox Easter message, as Russia’s attack continues, at the Saint Sophia cathedral, April 23

A Ukrainian soldier lights candles at the Volodymysky Cathedral during Easter celebration in Kyiv, Ukraine

A Ukrainian soldier lights candles at the Volodymysky Cathedral during Easter celebration in Kyiv, Ukraine

Worshippers receive a sanctification during an Orthodox Easter service in front of St. Volodymyr's Cathedral in Kyiv

Worshippers receive a sanctification during an Orthodox Easter service in front of St. Volodymyr’s Cathedral in Kyiv

Standing outside St. Volodymyr's Cathedral in Kyiv, attendees receive a sanctification as part of the Easter service

Standing outside St. Volodymyr’s Cathedral in Kyiv, attendees receive a sanctification as part of the Easter service

People attend a service at the Volodymysky Cathedral during Easter celebration in Kyiv, Ukraine

People attend a service at the Volodymysky Cathedral during Easter celebration in Kyiv, Ukraine

Worshippers light candles at the Saint Volodymyr's Cathedral during Orthodox Eastern celebrations in Kyiv, Ukraine

Worshippers light candles at the Saint Volodymyr’s Cathedral during Orthodox Eastern celebrations in Kyiv, Ukraine

Ukrainian believers attend an Orthodox Easter service at a church in Zaporizhzhia, Ukraine amid the Russian invasion

Ukrainian believers attend an Orthodox Easter service at a church in Zaporizhzhia, Ukraine amid the Russian invasion

An orthodox priest leads a procession as people gathe at the cathedral of the Holy Protection of the Orthodox Church of the Moscow Patriarchate, in the southern city of Zaporizhzhia

An orthodox priest leads a procession as people gathe at the cathedral of the Holy Protection of the Orthodox Church of the Moscow Patriarchate, in the southern city of Zaporizhzhia

Worshippers light candles during the celebrations of orthodox easter day at the cathedral of the Holy Protection of the Orthodox Church of the Moscow Patriarchate, in the southern city of Zaporizhzhia

Worshippers light candles during the celebrations of orthodox easter day at the cathedral of the Holy Protection of the Orthodox Church of the Moscow Patriarchate, in the southern city of Zaporizhzhia

A woman lights a candle during the celebrations in Zaporizhzhia, Ukraine

A woman lights a candle during the celebrations in Zaporizhzhia, Ukraine

Ukrainian believers attend an Orthodox Easter service at a church in Zaporizhzhia, Ukraine, amid the Russian invasion

Ukrainian believers attend an Orthodox Easter service at a church in Zaporizhzhia, Ukraine, amid the Russian invasion

Local residents walk after the Orthodox Easter service next to The Nativity of the Holy Virgin Church damaged by shelling during Russia's invasion in the village of Peremoha, in Kyiv region, Ukraine

Local residents walk after the Orthodox Easter service next to The Nativity of the Holy Virgin Church damaged by shelling during Russia’s invasion in the village of Peremoha, in Kyiv region, Ukraine

An Orthodox priest Oleksandr conducts the Orthodox Easter service at the remains of Trinity church in the village of Hostroluchchia, in Kyiv region

An Orthodox priest Oleksandr conducts the Orthodox Easter service at the remains of Trinity church in the village of Hostroluchchia, in Kyiv region

 

ITALY: Clergyman Eugenio Sagulin, from Kyiv, during the confession rite at an orthodox Easter service for Ukrainians, both residents and refugees, in Melzo, in the outskirts of Milan, Italy

ITALY: Clergyman Eugenio Sagulin, from Kyiv, during the confession rite at an orthodox Easter service for Ukrainians, both residents and refugees, in Melzo, in the outskirts of Milan, Italy

An Ukrainian woman bows to kiss a representation of the death bed of Christ at a service in Melzo, in the outskirts of Milan, Italy

An Ukrainian woman bows to kiss a representation of the death bed of Christ at a service in Melzo, in the outskirts of Milan, Italy

Ilia, 11, a refugee from Kamianets-Podilskyi, Western Ukraine, bows to kiss a representation of the death bed of Christ, during an orthodox Easter service for Ukrainians, both residents and refugees, in Melzo, in the outskirts of Milan, Italy

Ilia, 11, a refugee from Kamianets-Podilskyi, Western Ukraine, bows to kiss a representation of the death bed of Christ, during an orthodox Easter service for Ukrainians, both residents and refugees, in Melzo, in the outskirts of Milan, Italy

What is Orthodox Easter and when does it fall?

Orthodox Christians base their Easter date on the Julian calendar. Designed by Julius Caesar in 45 BC – the calendar considers a year to be the time it takes the Sun to go around the Earth.

It has years that last either 365 days or leap years with 366 days, and slightly exceeds an astronomical year.

This means that the Julian calendar gains a day every 128 years. At the moment, it is 13 days behind the Gregorian Calendar.

Created in 1582 by Pope Gregory, the Gregorian Calendar changed a year from 365.25 days to 365.2425 days. Great Britain adopted this calendar in 1752.

With the Orthodox church split by the tensions between Russia and Ukraine, some worshippers hoped the holy day could inspire gestures of peace-making.

‘The church can help,’ said one man who gave only his first name, Serhii, as he came to a church in Kyiv under the Moscow Patriarchate.

He and others brought baskets to be blessed by priests for Easter, with flicks of a brush sprinkling holy water over offerings of home-dyed eggs, lighted candles and even bottles of Jack Daniels.

Residents of rural villages battered by the war approached the holiday with some defiance.

‘We’ll celebrate Easter no matter what, no matter much horror,’ said Kateryna Lazarenko, 68, in the northern village of Ivanivka outside Chernihiv, where ruined Russian tanks still littered the roads.

‘How do I feel? Very nervous, everyone is nervous,’ said another resident, Olena Koptyl, as she prepared her Easter bread. 

‘The Easter holiday doesn’t bring any joy. I’m crying a lot. We cannot forget how we lived.’ 

She and 12 others spent a month sheltering from Russian soldiers in the basement of her home before the soldiers withdrew.

Away from Kyiv, under the rain at a military position in the eastern town of Lyman, on the frontline, soldiers traded the usual patriotic salutation of ‘Glory to Ukraine!’ for the ritual ‘Christ has risen!’

‘Truly risen!’ came the reply. 

UKRAINE: Worshipers stand next to their traditional cakes and painted eggs prepared for an Easter celebration during a religious service at a church in Bucha, on the outskirts of Kyiv, on Sunday

UKRAINE: Worshipers stand next to their traditional cakes and painted eggs prepared for an Easter celebration during a religious service at a church in Bucha, on the outskirts of Kyiv, on Sunday

Olga Zhovtobrukh, 55, cries during an Easter religious service celebrated at a church in Bucha, on the outskirts of Kyiv, on Sunday

Olga Zhovtobrukh, 55, cries during an Easter religious service celebrated at a church in Bucha, on the outskirts of Kyiv, on Sunday

A female Ukrainian soldier crosses herself during an Orthodox Easter service in St. Volodymyr's Cathedral in Kyiv on April 24, 2022

A female Ukrainian soldier crosses herself during an Orthodox Easter service in St. Volodymyr’s Cathedral in Kyiv on April 24, 2022

An Orthodox priest Oleksandr conducts the Orthodox Easter service at the remains of Trinity church in the village of Hostroluchchia, in Kyiv region, Ukraine

An Orthodox priest Oleksandr conducts the Orthodox Easter service at the remains of Trinity church in the village of Hostroluchchia, in Kyiv region, Ukraine

Egyptian Coptic Christians were also pictured marking Easter this weekend, as part of the Julian calendar.

On Holy Saturday, hundreds gathered at the Samaan el-Kharaz monastery in Cairo’s Mount Muqattam, Egypt, to mark the celebration. 

The stone monastery is located at the top of the Muqattam Mountain, with six churches carved into the rock of the mountain. 

tian Coptic Christians attend a religious ceremony for the Holy Saturday at the Samaan el-Kharaz monastery in Cairo's Mount Muqattam

EGYPT: Egyptian Coptic Christians attend a religious ceremony for the Holy Saturday at the Samaan el-Kharaz monastery in Cairo’s Mount Muqattam

The stone monastery is located at the top of the Muqattam Mountain, with six churches carved into the rock of the mountain

The stone monastery is located at the top of the Muqattam Mountain, with six churches carved into the rock of the mountain

Worshippers are seated at the monastery, as part of the ceremony to mark Holy Saturday

Worshippers are seated at the monastery, as part of the ceremony to mark Holy Saturday



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