Photoblog: Penang Holy Week celebration

Holy Week is the most sacred season of the year in the Catholic Church calendar.

It begins with Palm Sunday which is also known as Passion Sunday on March 24, 2013.

Palm Sunday is the celebration of Jesus’s triumphant entrance into Jerusalem where he was welcome by crowds waving palms.

After that comes the ‘Easter Triduum’. A ‘triduum’ is a span of three days usually accompanying a church festival or holy days that are devoted to special prayer and observance.

The Easter Triduum consists of Holy or Maundy Thursday, Good Friday and Easter Vigil or Sunday sometimes known as ‘Holy Saturday’.

Holy Thursday on March 28, commemorates the Last Supper of Jesus Christ.

It celebrates both the institution by Christ himself of the Eucharist and of the institution of the sacerdotal priesthood.

On Holy Thursday, the priest washes the feet of 12 men as a symbolic gesture of love, service and humility following Jesus washing the feet of Peter.

Following that is Good Friday, which commemorates the Passion and Death of  Jesus Christ on the Cross.

Good Friday service is divided into there parts: Liturgy of the Word, Veneration of the Cross and Holy Communion.

During the veneration of the cross, the priest will unveil the covered cross three times until it is exposed.

This is followed by ‘veneration’ where the priests and parishioners came up one by one to kiss the cross.

Holy Saturday or Easter Vigil on 30 March, celebrates the Resurrection of Christ, and the liturgy had been hailed as the most beautiful liturgy in the Roman Catholic church.

It is rich in tradition and rites, which consists of four parts, Service of Light, Liturgy of the Word, Liturgy of Baptism and Liturgy of Eucharist

It is on Easter vigil that water is blessed for use throughout the year and where adults (new converts) are baptized and Catholics renew their baptismal vows.

Following Easter vigil, celebrated after sunset on Saturday, is Easter Sunday, as the name implies, celebrated on Sunday morning or evening.

One important significance of Easter Sunday, is the renewal of baptismal vows/promises by all those who had been baptised, which is followed by blessing from the new Holy Water from Easter Vigil.

Easter, celebrated on Saturday night and on Sunday, is the most important celebration in the Christian calendar.

Palm Sunday: Church of Our Lady of Sorrowns, Penang. Parishioners with palms held high stood outside the church, waiting for the blessing of the palms. Photo credit: Aaron Lim.
Palm Sunday: Church of the Divine Mercy, Penang. Fr Martin blesses the palms.
Holy Thursday: Church of St Francis Xavier, Penang. Fr Dominic washes the feet of a parishioner.
Holy Church of St Francis Xavier, Penang. After washing the feet, Fr Domnic kisses the feet.
Holy Thursday: Church of St Francis Xavier, Penang. The congregation at the Holy Thursday Mass.
Holy Thursday: Church of St Francis Xavier. Parishioners receiving Holy Communion.
Holy Thursday: Church of St Francis Xavier, Penang. The Blessed Sacrament was transfered in a short procession to the Altar of Repose.
Holy Thursday: Church of St Francis Xavier, Penang. The lovely decorated Altar of Repose, where the Blessed Sacrament is placed until midnight for prayers and adoration.
Good Friday: Church of Our Lady of Sorrows, Penang. The two priests celebrating the Service, lay prostrate in front of the altar at the very beginning of the Service.
Good Friday: Church of Our Lady of Sorrows, Penang. Veneration of the Cross. The covered cross was slowly being unveiled three times.
Good Friday: Church of Our Lady of Sorrows, Penang. Unveiling the cross second step.
Good Friday: Church of Our Lady of Sorrows, Penang. The priest, first, venerate the cross, by kissing it.
Good Friday: Church of Our Lady of Sorrows, Penang. This is followed by the parishioners queueing up to venerate the Cross.
Easter Sunday: Church of the Assumption, Penang. The priest, Fr Thoo, blessed the fire, then use it to light the 'Paschal Candle'.
Easter Virgil: Church of the Assumption, Penang. Preparation of the 'Paschal Candle'. The priest cuts a cross into the candle with a stylus. Then he makes the Greek letter Alpha above the cross, the letter Omega below, and the four numerals of the current year between the arms of the cross
Easter Virgil: Church of the Assumption, Penang. The crowd congregates outside the church first to witness the Liturgy of Light (blessing of water and preparation of Paschal candle).
Easter Virgil: Church of the Assumption, Penang. In total darkness, the procession inside the church begins, with an Altar Server carrying the Paschal Candle, leading the procession.
Church of Our lady of Sorrows, Penang. A close-up of the Paschal candle. Photo credit: Aaron Lim.
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