Monday, April 28, 2008

Holy Week

I arrived back in Thessaloniki on Tuesday. I served at our local parish here in Panorama, St. George's, on Great Wednesday and Great Thursday morning. My time back home, though, was brief, as my bishop here in Greece, Metropolitan Ignatios of Volos, called me to come down to Volos (about 2.5 hours south of here, on the central-eastern coast) to help with the Holy Week services. Pelagia and I left for Volos on Thursday afternoon.

The Metropolis put us up at a little hotel in the central square of Nea Ionia (a city which borders Volos), next to the Church of the Annunciation (see top photo). I, however, was assigned to a parish about a mile away, St. Spyridon's. We were there for the remainder of the services, starting on Holy Thursday evening, with the reading of the 12 Gospels.

The rector of the parish, Fr. Demetrios, is a sweet, saintly old priest. That parish has two younger priests assigned to it, but they were farmed out to distant villages without regular priests for the Holy Week services.

On Thursday night, after the service, the tradition in Greece is for everyone to stay and decorate the bier until very, very late -- sometimes even all night. The second photo is of the gorgeous bier from the Church of the Annunciation. Here, indeed, one woman had stayed up all night working on it. The bottom photo is of the bier at St. Spyridon's.

On Friday morning, of course, we had the Royal Hours combined with the Taking Down from the Cross, which lasted about 4 hours.

Pelagia took a 7.5-minute video (below) of some of the service from Holy Friday evening, the Lamentations service.

When we took the bier in procession outside, we went around what seemed like most of the city. I would say it was at least a mile! Everything and everyone in the city was stopped, waiting to see the bier pass by.

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