Armenia: Maundy Thursday

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The holy week is the highlight of the liturgical year of the Armenian apostolic church. And although a regular church visit is already quite a happening for those not used to the rich orthodox rituals, the holy week brings even more to engross oneself in. The morning mass marks the institution of the Holy Communion, which Christ established at the Last Supper by breaking unleavened bread (‘his body’) and shared the wine (‘his blood’) with his apostles. The sacrament that still allows people to participate. Another episode at the Last Supper is recalled during the evening service: “The Washing of the Feet” ceremony. It commemorates how Christ washed the feet of His apostles, setting an example of humility and love. During the service, the Catholicos of All Armenians Karekin II, (the Supreme Patriarch) washes the feet of twelve church members – usually varying from a cardinal to a young child (men only).
There is also an all-night vigil in memory of the last sleepless night of  Jesus on earth.  This service is called Khavaroom (darkness). Six sets of laments are chanted, each followed by a Gospel reading depicting Christ’s betrayal, imprisonment, torture, trial, sentence, and crucifixion. Twelve candles are lit, 11 white and 1 black (representing Judas) and are extinguished in pairs.


 

Pictures are taken on holy Thursday 2011

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