Starting this weekend, Durham Cathedral is inviting people to join the most important Christian festival in the year, at one of the most iconic North East places, with a programme of special services and events.
Palm Sunday (2 April) to Easter Sunday (9 April) is known as Holy Week and Durham Cathedral is inviting people to come together to journey through the Easter story and celebrate the passion, death, and resurrection of Jesus Christ.
Reverend Canon Michael Hampel, Acting Dean of Durham said,
"Holy Week and Easter at Durham Cathedral take us on a journey of faith right to the heart of the Christian story. The very stones of the cathedral building are soaked with the prayers of centuries and we invite everyone to join us for some or all of this great journey, accompanied by prayer, insight and choral music – all of which hold us together as we follow in the footsteps of Jesus."
Services begin on Palm Sunday, 2 April at 11.15am, with a Sung Eucharist, Procession of the Palms and the Reading of Passion. During this service the clergy will lead a procession outside from Palace Green into the cathedral, echoing Jesus’ entry into Jerusalem (where people spread palm leaves on the floor for him to walk on). Those who join the congregation, will be given a palm cross as a reminder of Christ’s victory over death on the cross.
During a Maundy Thursday service on 6 April at 11am, three holy oils will be blessed for use in services throughout the Durham Diocese in the following year, such as baptisms and confirmations. Later that day at 7.30pm you can join the Stripping of the Altar during which the Acting Dean will echo scenes from the last supper by washing the feet of the community to remind us of the humility of Christ and that his greatest commandment was to love others.
Good Friday, 7 April, is the most solemn day of the Christian year and at 12noon the cathedral hosts a service to commemorate the three hours that Christ suffered and died on the cross. This poignant service is a great time for deep reflection and will include music interspersed with prayers and silences.
Holy Week culminates on Easter Sunday to celebrate Jesus rising from the cross. The day begins at dawn with a 5am service around a fire in the cloisters, during which people can journey from darkness into light as the sun rises with music and prayer as well as affirmations of faith. The celebrations continue throughout the day with Matins at 10am, Sung Eucharist at 11.15am and Evensong at 3.30pm.
Andrew Usher, Chief Officer: Visitor Experience & Enterprise says,
“We get lots of visitors at Easter from all over the UK, as well as internationally, and everyone is welcome to join these special services and learn more about the Easter journey. The tone of the cathedral is very different during Holy Week and it’s a special time to experience Durham Cathedral as a living, working church. From Easter Monday onwards the cathedral is offering lots of family friendly activities which have a different feel but also touch on the Easter story.”
Following the week of planned services at Durham Cathedral, from 10 – 14 April there will be family activities throughout the Easter holidays. Families can make Easter and spring crafts from recycled materials, dress up as a monk or follow the Bede Bear and Friends springtime trail around the cathedral. The cathedral is also making things a little easier for families through the holidays, with a ‘Kid’s Go Free’ offer in the Undercroft Cafe.
Easter Monday, 10 April, is World Heritage Day where families can get involved with medieval re-enactments, craft workshops and live music on Palace Green - all for free. As part of the celebrations visitors can step inside the amazing spaces of Durham Cathedral, Durham Castle and Palace Green Library to find out more about the history of the buildings and Durham City.
For more information on services and events visit: www.durhamcathedral.co.uk