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Holy Saturday and Easter Day: Baghdad 2023

The evening liturgy on Holy Saturday began as always with the kindling and blessing of new fire outside St George’s. The tall paschal candle was marked with the sign of the cross, the letters Alpha and Omega, the numerals of the year, and five nails to mark the five wounds of Christ. It was lifted high, and three times in procession into the dimmed church Canon Faiz Jerjes proclaimed “The light of Christ!” in Arabic, to which all responded “Thanks be to God”. Archbishop Michael sang the Exsultet, the traditional celebratory chant, as he stood by the now firmly fixed paschal candle. Many scripture readings followed, culminating in the Passion according to St John. At last Alleluias were heard after the long days of Lent and all received communion.

On Sunday the festival eucharist was accompanied by incense. Baptismal promises were renewed by everyone and water was sprinkled over the congregation to remind them of that great sacrament of initiation. After the final procession Majd, the musician and choir director, introduced a short and joyful dance and song by some of the children of St George’s. 

Last of all, as on several other days this Holy Week, food was distributed in the church grounds to the many poor people who had been present, and others who look to St George’s for practical help and relief.