Alexis II to head Easter service in Christ the Savior Cathedral

Patriarch Alexis II of Moscow and All Russia will head the Easter service in the Christ the Savior Cathedral, to start on Holy Saturday (April 10) at 11:15 p.m. Moscow time.

The Moscow Patriarchate's external church relations department told RIA Novosti that at 11:40 p.m. the Patriarch will head the religious procession with the cross around Moscow's main cathedral, after which, with the beginning of Sunday, the Paschal orthron and liturgy will start.

Easter - the Radiant Resurrection of Christ - is the greatest church feast. According to the New Testament, the Savior was risen on the third day after his death on the Cross, redeeming the world. This event marks the Lord's victory over sin and death and the beginning of a new world redeemed by Jesus Christ.

Solemn Easter services begin in all Orthodox churches about 11 p.m. on Saturday, to last into the early hours of Sunday. At midnight, the religious procession with the cross begins: the bells ring, and the clergy and parishioners with candles lit, glorifying the Lord, go out of the church as if to meet the Lord, and, walking around the church, stop before closed doors, as if at the entrance to the Holy Sepulchre. The choir sings "Christ is risen from the dead, tramping down Death by death, and upon those in the tomb bestowing life", the doors open, the believers go inside and the paschal canon singing starts.

The Paschal orthron is followed by the Divine liturgy and the consecration of artos - bread with the image of Christ or the Resurrection of Christ (it is kept in the church until next Saturday to be then given to believers).

From the Easter Day to the Ascension of Our Lord Jesus Christ, marked on the fortieth day after Easter, Orthodox believers greet each other with the words "Christ is risen!" - "He is risen indeed!" After the paschal divine service, the believers break their fast and eat Easter cakes, eggs and paskha, made from cottage cheese.

The tradition to present to each other colored eggs appeared in the first century A.D. Church legend has it that then, visiting the emperor, people brought presents to him. And when Mary Magdalene came to Rome to emperor Tiberius with a sermon of faith, she gave him an ordinary hen's egg.

Tiberius did not believe Mary's story about the Resurrection of Christ and said: "How can anyone rise from the dead? This is as impossible as if this egg became red." The emperor saw a miracle at once: the egg turned red, testifying the verity of Christian faith.

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