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Easter Sunday celebrated around the world with socially distanced services amid Covid restrictions


Worshippers have gathered all around the world to mark Easter Sunday despite ongoing lockdowns and coronavirus restrictions.

Pope Francis held Mass in St Peter’s Basilica to a largely empty Vatican, with cardinals sat socially distanced and wearing face masks during the service. 

In his address, he blasted ‘scandalous’ armed conflicts taking place and called for vaccines to be shared with poorer countries as he spoke to a small crowd as well as many who livestreamed the service from home.

‘I urge the entire international community… to commit to overcoming delays in the distribution of vaccines and to facilitate their distribution, especially in the poorest countries,’ the head of the world’s 1.3 billion Catholics said in his Easter address. 

He added: ‘May Christ our peace finally bring an end to the clash of arms in beloved and war-torn Syria, where millions of people are presently living in inhumane conditions; in Yemen, whose situation has met with a deafening and scandalous silence; and in Libya, where at last there is hope.’

Only around 200 faithful were allowed to attend the service normally watched on by a full basilica as well as up to 100,000 gathering in St Peter’s Square. 

Italy is currently under a strict three-day lockdown amid rising cases again of the virus.

It marks the second Easter that Christians have had to endure Covid restrictions with millions unable to attend church as services were again broadcast online. 

In his Easter Sunday service, The Archbishop of Canterbury urged people to choose a ‘better future for all’, rather than live in a society that only benefits the rich and powerful. 

Meanwhile in Myanmar, anti-coup demonstrators decorated boiled eggs to show their support for the protesters on the religious day.

The eggs were decorated with political messages and left on neighbours’ doorsteps and hung in bags on front gates.

Pope Francis delivered a service from the Vatican on Sunday and did not wear a face mask while others inside the basilica wore coverings

Pope Francis celebrates Easter Mass at St. Peter's Basilica at a largely empty Vatican as others wore face masks and observed social distancing

Pope Francis celebrates Easter Mass at St. Peter’s Basilica at a largely empty Vatican as others wore face masks and observed social distancing

In his address, he blasted 'scandalous' armed conflicts taking place and called for vaccines to be shared with poorer countries

In his address, he blasted ‘scandalous’ armed conflicts taking place and called for vaccines to be shared with poorer countries

It marks the second Easter that Christians have had to endure Covid restrictions with millions unable to attend church as services were again broadcast online

It marks the second Easter that Christians have had to endure Covid restrictions with millions unable to attend church as services were again broadcast online

Policemen patrol an empty St. Peter's Square at the Vatican after Italy was forced into another three-day lockdown to stop the spread of the virus

Policemen patrol an empty St. Peter’s Square at the Vatican after Italy was forced into another three-day lockdown to stop the spread of the virus

Pope Francis delivers his Urbi et Orbi blessing, after celebrating Easter Sunday Mass at St. Peter's Basilica

Pope Francis delivers his Urbi et Orbi blessing, after celebrating Easter Sunday Mass at St. Peter’s Basilica

In his Easter Sunday service, The Archbishop of Canterbury urged people to choose a 'better future for all', rather than live in a society that only benefits the rich and powerful

In his Easter Sunday service, The Archbishop of Canterbury urged people to choose a ‘better future for all’, rather than live in a society that only benefits the rich and powerful

In Myanmar, anti-coup demonstrators decorated boiled eggs to show their support for the protesters to mark Easter Sunday

In Myanmar, anti-coup demonstrators decorated boiled eggs to show their support for the protesters to mark Easter Sunday

Pictures posted on social media showed eggs adorned with Suu Kyi's likeness and three-finger salutes - a symbol of the resistance - while others said 'save our people' and 'democracy'

Pictures posted on social media showed eggs adorned with Suu Kyi’s likeness and three-finger salutes – a symbol of the resistance – while others said ‘save our people’ and ‘democracy’

Friends and relatives place flowers in front of a memorial plaque commemorating the people who died in the 2019 Easter Sunday bombings in Sri Lanka

Friends and relatives place flowers in front of a memorial plaque commemorating the people who died in the 2019 Easter Sunday bombings in Sri Lanka

The traditionally dressed Sorbian Easter riders proclaim the Easter message on horseback according to an old custom in Ralbitz, Germany

The traditionally dressed Sorbian Easter riders proclaim the Easter message on horseback according to an old custom in Ralbitz, Germany

People wear face masks as they attend an Easter Sunday mass service in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, amid ongoing Covid restrictions

People wear face masks as they attend an Easter Sunday mass service in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, amid ongoing Covid restrictions

Young Christian devotees attend an Easter mass on the second anniversary of the Easter Sunday attack in Sri Lanka

Young Christian devotees attend an Easter mass on the second anniversary of the Easter Sunday attack in Sri Lanka

A fire in the brazier is used to light a wick for the Paschal candle at Salisbury Cathedral in England during a socially distanced ceremony

A fire in the brazier is used to light a wick for the Paschal candle at Salisbury Cathedral in England during a socially distanced ceremony

Fransiscan friars pray during a mass on Easter Sunday while wearing face masks at the Church of the Holy Sepulchre in Jerusalem

Fransiscan friars pray during a mass on Easter Sunday while wearing face masks at the Church of the Holy Sepulchre in Jerusalem

Women dressed in traditional clothes of the Slavic ethnic minority community of Sorbs meet early on Easter Sunday to sing in front of a church in Schleife, Germany

Women dressed in traditional clothes of the Slavic ethnic minority community of Sorbs meet early on Easter Sunday to sing in front of a church in Schleife, Germany

Pictures posted on social media showed eggs adorned with Suu Kyi’s likeness and three-finger salutes – a symbol of the resistance – while others said ‘save our people’ and ‘democracy’.

One Facebook group promoting the egg protest urged people to be respectful of Christian traditions on Easter Sunday. 

In Sri Lanka, security was stepped up at churches across the country to guard against a repeat of the 2019 suicide bombings that killed 279, a police spokesman said.

More than 12,500 armed constables were on duty outside close to 2,000 Sri Lankan churches, and were backed by military personnel.

‘We have also got the help the armed forces to patrol and reinforce police units across the country,’ police spokesman Deputy Inspector-General Ajith Rohana said.

One Facebook group promoting the egg protest urged people to be respectful of Christian traditions on Easter Sunday

One Facebook group promoting the egg protest urged people to be respectful of Christian traditions on Easter Sunday

The eggs were decorated with political messages and left on neighbours' doorsteps and hung in bags on front gates

The eggs were decorated with political messages and left on neighbours’ doorsteps and hung in bags on front gates

Christian devotees carry a partly damaged statue of Jesus salvaged from the rubble after the 2019 Easter Sunday bombing, during a Easter procession in Sri Lanka

Christian devotees carry a partly damaged statue of Jesus salvaged from the rubble after the 2019 Easter Sunday bombing, during a Easter procession in Sri Lanka

Sri Lanka was shaken on Easter Sunday in 2019 when three churches and three hotels were targeted by alleged local jihadists in the largest single terror attack in the history of the country

Sri Lanka was shaken on Easter Sunday in 2019 when three churches and three hotels were targeted by alleged local jihadists in the largest single terror attack in the history of the country

More than 12,500 armed constables were on duty outside close to 2,000 Sri Lankan churches, and were backed by military personnel

More than 12,500 armed constables were on duty outside close to 2,000 Sri Lankan churches, and were backed by military personnel

Friends and relatives place flowers in front of a memorial plaque commemorating the people who died in the 2019 Easter Sunday bombing

Friends and relatives place flowers in front of a memorial plaque commemorating the people who died in the 2019 Easter Sunday bombing

Sri Lanka was shaken on Easter Sunday in 2019 when three churches and three hotels were targeted by alleged local jihadists in the largest single terror attack in the history of the country.

At least 279 people were killed in the attacks, and around 500 were wounded.

On Sunday, police checked identity cards and bags before allowing people to attend the morning mass at St. Sebastian’s church north of the capital Colombo, where at least 115 were killed in the 2019 Easter attack. 

Posters calling for justice were put up outside St. Sebastian’s, which was packed with worshippers on Sunday. 

At a hospital in the Lombardy region of Italy, where the pandemic first erupted in the West in February 2020, a hospital gave a traditional dove-shaped Easter cake symbolizing peace to each person who lined up to receive a COVID-19 vaccine. Many of the ones who came were in their 80s and accompanied by adult children.

Intent on tamping down weeks of surging infections, the Italian government ordered people to stay home during the three-day weekend except for essential errands like food shopping or exercise. 

Premier Mario Draghi did grant a concession. permitting one visit to family or friends per day in residents’ home regions over the long weekend, which includes the Little Easter national holiday on Monday. 

In Jerusalem, air travel restrictions and quarantine regulations prevented foreign pilgrims from flocking to religious sites during Holy Week, which culminates in Easter celebrations.

The Easter service at the Church of the Holy Sepulcher was celebrated by Latin Patriarch Pierbattista, the senior Roman Catholic cleric in the Holy Land. The site in Jerusalem’s Old City is where many Christians believe Jesus was crucified, buried and rose from the dead. 

An elderly Catholic prays outside the Saint Peter Parish Church in Quezon City, Metro Manila, Philippines

An elderly Catholic prays outside the Saint Peter Parish Church in Quezon City, Metro Manila, Philippines

Christians wearing face masks as a precaution against the coronavirus attend while maintaining social distancing during an Easter service at the Yoido Full Gospel Church in Seoul, South Korea

Christians wearing face masks as a precaution against the coronavirus attend while maintaining social distancing during an Easter service at the Yoido Full Gospel Church in Seoul, South Korea

A Catholic priest blesses the congregation with holy water during an Easter Sunday mass service in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia.

A Catholic priest blesses the congregation with holy water during an Easter Sunday mass service in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia.

Malaysia recently eased its Covid regulations, allowing religious gatherings to operate at 50 per cent capacity with social distancing

Malaysia recently eased its Covid regulations, allowing religious gatherings to operate at 50 per cent capacity with social distancing

Women in Germany dressed in traditional clothes of the Slavic ethnic minority community of Sorbs

Women in Germany dressed in traditional clothes of the Slavic ethnic minority community of Sorbs

Police stand guard outside a church in Indonesia amid tightened police security following the bombing last week at the Makassar cathedral

Police stand guard outside a church in Indonesia amid tightened police security following the bombing last week at the Makassar cathedral

Members of the clergy attend the traditional Easter Vigil held in smaller numbers than in pre-pandemic years on the night of Holy Saturday in Portugal

Members of the clergy attend the traditional Easter Vigil held in smaller numbers than in pre-pandemic years on the night of Holy Saturday in Portugal

Elsewhere, women in Germany dressed in traditional clothes of the Slavic ethnic minority community of Sorbs.

They gathered outside a church in Schleife to sing in the early hours of Easter Sunday.

In South Korea, churches only allowed 20 per cent of their normal capacity to attend services as Covid restrictions continued. 

Yoido Full Gospel Church, the biggest Protestant church in the country, allowed only about 2,000 church members to attend Easter service, or about 17 per cent of the capacity of church’s main building. 

Masked church members sang hymns, clapped hands and prayed as the service was broadcast online and by Christian TV channels.

Seoul’s Myeongdong Catholic Cathedral, the biggest Catholic church in South Korea, limited Mass attendance to 20 per cent capacity and livestreamed the Easter service on YouTube.

In Salisbury, England, the Paschal candle was lit and carried into the cathedral by its bishop, The Right Rev. Nicholas Holtam. 

People wearing face masks as a protection against Covid receive communion during an Easter Sunday Mass at the St. Peter Parish Shrine of Leaders, in Quezon City, Philippines

People wearing face masks as a protection against Covid receive communion during an Easter Sunday Mass at the St. Peter Parish Shrine of Leaders, in Quezon City, Philippines 

In Portugal, members of the clergy held a traditional nighttime Easter Vigil in smaller numbers than usual amid tightened rules

In Portugal, members of the clergy held a traditional nighttime Easter Vigil in smaller numbers than usual amid tightened rules

The lighting of the Paschal candle is lit every year at Easter in Salisbury and is used during the Paschal season and then throughout the year on special occasions, such as baptisms and funerals

The lighting of the Paschal candle is lit every year at Easter in Salisbury and is used during the Paschal season and then throughout the year on special occasions, such as baptisms and funerals

The lighting of the Paschal candle is lit every year at Easter, and is used during the Paschal season and then throughout the year on special occasions, such as baptisms and funerals. 

Rev. Holtam said: ‘The lighting of the Paschal candle from the new fire, in the half-light early on Easter morning, is a great moment of resurrection and new life. 

‘The single candle is carried into the Cathedral and the proclamation of the Light of Christ fills the whole space. The light is spread round the Cathedral with candles held by all the baptised – truly the light of the world.’

In Portugal, members of the clergy held a traditional nighttime Easter Vigil in smaller numbers than usual.  



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