Christians worldwide flock to churches to mark Easter

Altar boys preparing to enter the Cathedral of the Good Shepherd in Singapore in a procession at the evening Easter Sunday mass yesterday. ST PHOTO: LIM YAOHUI People at an Easter Sunday mass in tribute to the Notre-Dame cathedral at the Saint-Eustac
Altar boys preparing to enter the Cathedral of the Good Shepherd in Singapore in a procession at the evening Easter Sunday mass yesterday. ST PHOTO: LIM YAOHUI
Altar boys preparing to enter the Cathedral of the Good Shepherd in Singapore in a procession at the evening Easter Sunday mass yesterday. ST PHOTO: LIM YAOHUI People at an Easter Sunday mass in tribute to the Notre-Dame cathedral at the Saint-Eustac
People at an Easter Sunday mass in tribute to the Notre-Dame cathedral at the Saint-Eustache Church in Paris yesterday. The fire-ravaged Notre-Dame is not expected to reopen to the public for at least five or six years. PHOTO: AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE
Altar boys preparing to enter the Cathedral of the Good Shepherd in Singapore in a procession at the evening Easter Sunday mass yesterday. ST PHOTO: LIM YAOHUI People at an Easter Sunday mass in tribute to the Notre-Dame cathedral at the Saint-Eustac
Pope Francis acknowledging worshippers as he left at the end of the Easter Sunday mass in Vatican City yesterday. PHOTO: AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE
Altar boys preparing to enter the Cathedral of the Good Shepherd in Singapore in a procession at the evening Easter Sunday mass yesterday. ST PHOTO: LIM YAOHUI People at an Easter Sunday mass in tribute to the Notre-Dame cathedral at the Saint-Eustac
Worshippers attending the Easter Sunday mass in Jerusalem’s Church of the Holy Sepulchre yesterday. PHOTO: REUTERS
Altar boys preparing to enter the Cathedral of the Good Shepherd in Singapore in a procession at the evening Easter Sunday mass yesterday. ST PHOTO: LIM YAOHUI People at an Easter Sunday mass in tribute to the Notre-Dame cathedral at the Saint-Eustac
Children dressed as angels at an Easter celebration yesterday in Santo Tomas, Pampanga, in the Philippines. PHOTO: EPA-EFE
Altar boys preparing to enter the Cathedral of the Good Shepherd in Singapore in a procession at the evening Easter Sunday mass yesterday. ST PHOTO: LIM YAOHUI People at an Easter Sunday mass in tribute to the Notre-Dame cathedral at the Saint-Eustac
Easter Sunday mass being held at St Mary’s Cathedral in Sydney, Australia, yesterday. PHOTO: EPA-EFE

But for first time in nine centuries, there were no services at fire-hit Notre-Dame cathedral

Easter is a special day for florist Lydia Teo, as it was the day she was baptised three years ago at the Church of Saints Peter and Paul in Queen Street.

Yesterday, she was among those singing with the church choir during Sunday mass, marking the end of a "journey" that started with Lent - a 40-day fast prior to Easter Sunday.

"It feels like a second chance to work on your life," Ms Teo, 29, said of Easter, which celebrates the resurrection of Jesus Christ.

She was among Singaporeans and tourists who flocked to churches around the island yesterday, following Easter vigil the night before.

On Saturday night, Pope Francis led the world's Roman Catholics into Easter at a vigil mass at St Peter's Basilica in Vatican City, urging the faithful to live not for transient things such as wealth and success but instead for God, Reuters reported.

He carved the numbers of the year 2019 into a candle during the service, as well as the first and last letters of the Greek alphabet - Alpha and Omega - signifying that God is the beginning and end of all things.

Pope Francis, marking his seventh Easter season as pope, wove his homily around the Bible account of the women who went to Jesus' tomb only to find it empty and the large stone that had sealed it cast away, said Reuters in a news report.

A SPECIAL MOMENT

It feels like a second chance to work on your life.

FLORIST LYDIA TEO, referring to Easter.

"God takes away even the hardest stones against which our hopes and expectations crash: death, sin, fear, worldliness," said the Pope on Saturday.

"There is another stone that often seals the heart shut: the stone of sin. Sin seduces; it promises things easy and quick, prosperity and success, but then leaves behind only solitude and death," he added. "Sin is looking for life among the dead, for the meaning of life in things that pass away."

During the mass, he also welcomed eight adult converts into the Church from Italy, Albania, Ecuador, Indonesia and Peru, said the Reuters report.

In Singapore, Mr Philip Hau, 62, who works in the shipping industry, said Easter remains an exciting experience "especially when there are more people being baptised and joining our family".

Yesterday, he attended morning mass in Mandarin at the Church of Our Lady of Perpetual Succour in Siglap with more than 300 others, and another session in Cantonese in the afternoon at the Church of Saints Peter and Paul, which he has been visiting since 2004.

 
 

"My family usually has dinner to celebrate Easter Sunday as well, after going to church," said Mr Hau, who was with his wife and 18-year-old son.

Meanwhile, for the first time in nine centuries, there were no Easter services at the Notre-Dame cathedral in Paris.

A fire, believed to be an accident, ravaged the cathedral last Monday, destroying its iconic spire and wooden roof, although the main body and many of its treasures - including its famous rose windows - were saved.

This forced worshippers to look for other places for Easter services, with the Paris diocese inviting them to attend Easter mass yesterday at the Saint-Eustache Church on the right bank of the Seine River, the Associated Press reported.

The Notre-Dame is not expected to reopen to the public for at least five or six years, but French President Emmanuel Macron is pushing for a quick reconstruction.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on April 22, 2019, with the headline 'Christians worldwide flock to churches to mark Easter'. Print Edition | Subscribe