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23 Mar, 2008 19:05

Russia's Catholics join Easter festivities

Christians across the world have been celebrating the resurrection of Jesus at Easter services. A special ceremony has been held in Moscow's Catholic Cathedral of the Immaculate Conception.

Easter is perhaps the most important festival in the Christian calendar. Worshippers celebrate Christ's resurrection from the dead – three days after his crucifixion.

In Russia, the majority of Christians belong to the Orthodox Church, which celebrates Easter later than Rome.  Orthodox Christians have one more month of fasting before their Easter.

Nevertheless, Russian Catholics have been  celebrating this day inside their community.

A Roman Catholic service has been held in Moscow’s Cathedral of the Immaculate Conception.

Among the congregation were a scattering of former Russian Orthodox Christians. Olga is one of the converts. She says she felt she should join the Catholic Church because, according to her, “this is the true church founded by Christ”. She attended religious seminars for a year before being baptised.

In the past, Russia has accused the Roman Catholic Church of poaching its Orthodox Christians, but the Vatican it’s just catering for its 60,000 followers in Moscow.

Services in the Russian capital are conducted in eight different languages, allowing everyone a chance to take part.

The exchange of brightly decorated eggs is a tradition at Easter. It symbolises rebirth and the coming of spring.

Easter Sunday follows the forty days of Lent, a period of prayer and fasting. Easter is a “moveable” feast, taking place any time between March 22 and April 25. It has come very early this year. It follows the cycle of the moon and coincides with the coming of spring.

Vatican City – the heart of celebrations

Tens of thousands of people gathered in St. Peter's square in Vatican City, to hear Pope Benedict XVI give his Easter Sunday blessing.

He called for peace in Africa, the Middle East and Tibet before delivering greetings in 63 languages.