Yesterday it was a day of mourning for Christianity as the climax of the Holy Drama took place. The Holy Friday was celebrated by Christians Orthodox all over Greece with devoutness and respect to the Holy Suffering of our Lord. Pivotal position among the religious events, holds the procession of the Epitaphs, that takes place throughout Greece with different variations. It is one of the most interesting Easter customs of our country, that starts with the adornment of the Epitaphs in the morning and comes to an end with their gathering in the night! Thus in Ioannina, Greece the Holy Drama was celebrated yesterday with the participation of thousands of faithful people that watched the Holy Service in the city’s various churches. Traditionally i go to the metropolitan church of Saint Athanasios, like i did yesterday. The church was over crowded with faithful listening to the lovely Holy hymns, while a large member of people were in the court yard and on the road outside the church.
The crowd started coming out of the church in order to follow the procession of the Epitaph, heading to the city hall, the gathering point of all the parishes. The band of the army was leading, playing mournful Easter marches and they were followed by children holding the cross and liturgical symbols, the intoners and the church’s stuarts. After them was the decorated Epitaph with an army squad placed on its two sides, just ahead of the bishop and the priests. Last in the procession was the crowd of the faithful, all of which were holding candles on their hands.
At around 22:00 the procession of the Metropolitan church arrived to the city hall, where the Epitaphs of the rest parishes with their faithful, were waiting having covered all the area up to the 28th of October street. The crowd of faithful that had followed in order to attend the ceremony of the Holy Friday, was huge. The city’s band was already place on a platform next to the one that the bishop and the priest were going to stand. The Epitaphs were beautifully decorated, each one better than the other. Besides, traditionally there is a competition between the parishes as to which one will adorn its Epitaph better.
The faithful were praying, hearing the Holy Gospel and listening carefully to the speech of Ioannina’s bishop Maximus. A speech full with references to the Greek financial crisis and the refugees drama! The lovely ceremony ended with wishes for a happy Easter and love among people.