Russian President Dmitry Medvedev and Prime Minister Vladimir Putin sent Easter greetings to the nation as Russian Orthodox Church prepared to celebrate one of the holiest days in its calendar Sunday.
"The Easter festival holds a special place in the spiritual life of Russian society..." said Medvedev in a statement issued overnight by the Kremlin. He noted in particular the symbolism of the fact that this year Christians of all denominations - Protestants, Catholics and Orthodox - celebrated Easter on the same day. Their cooperation for peace and mutual understanding would contribute to the more harmonious interethnic and interconfessional relations, he added.
Easter Holy Week celebrations are continuing in Jerusalem with a traditional ceremony at the holiest place in Christianity. Orthodox Christians crowded into the Church of the Holy Sepulchre in Jerusalem's Old City for the Ceremony of the Holy Fire. Following a 1,200-year-old tradition, priests entered the ancient stone tomb of Jesus as the cavernous church was plunged into darkness. Suddenly, the priests emerged with candles said to be lit by the Holy Spirit.
The crowd cheered as the flame quickly spread to thousands of worshippers holding candles. It symbolizes that Jesus is the light of the world. Worshippers came from countries where the Orthodox churches are strong, including Serbia, Russia, Armenia and Greece.
On Great and Holy Saturday, His Holiness Patriarch Irinej of Serbia served the Holy Hierarchal Liturgy of Saint Basil the Great in the church of St. Marco in Belgrade with the concelebration of archimandrite Vasilije, seven presbyters and four deacons.
His Holiness Patriarch Irinej of Serbia served today an evening service with the procession of the Holy Shroud, with the concelebration of His Grace Vicar Bishop Atanasije of Hvosno.
The service was attended by Mr. Boris Tadic, the President of the Republic of Serbia; Mr. Mladjan Djordjevic, Adviser to the President of the Republic; Professor Dr Bogoljub Sijakovic, the minister of Faith of the Republic of Serbia; Mr. Dragan Churovic, the state secretary in the Ministry of Faith of the RS; as well as the pious people of the Serbian capital.
The Serbian Orthodox Church to her spiritual children at Pascha, 2010
By the grace of God
Orthodox Archbishop of Pec, Metropolitan of Belgrade-Karlovci and Serbian
Patriarch, with the all the Hierarchs of the Serbian Orthodox Church – to all the
clergy, monastics, and all the sons and daughters of our Holy Church: grace, mercy
and peace from God the Father, and our Lord Jesus Christ, and the Holy Spirit,
with the joyous Paschal greeting:
CHRIST IS RISEN!
INDEED HE IS RISEN!