Cathedrals are ready to tell the Greatest Story

Cathedrals are getting ready for Holy Week and Easter with full programmes of worship and music events – the first since the pandemic – and Easter crafts and Egg hunts for children and families. 

Donkeys, Fire and Easter Gardens:  Cathedrals get ready to tell the greatest story

Donkeys will lead processions this Palm Sunday at some of our cathedrals including Exeter, Lichfield, Peterborough, Ripon, and York Minster while others will light an Easter fire to mark the dawn of Easter Day.

York’s Easter Garden opens this Sunday too and there are Stations of the Cross in the Deans Park.

The Archbishop of York, Stephen Cottrell, will be in residence at York Minster during Holy Week, preaching and leading services.

For more detail including new family activities click here.

Peterborough Cathedral is welcoming back donkeys, mother and daughter, Elise, and Mandy to lead the procession this Palm Sunday. And on Easter Monday there is a family drop-in session with puzzles, games, and detective-work to find out why the tomb in empty.

Palm Sunday Cathedral 1

Find out more here.

Lily the donkey and Ripon Cathedral Choir will lead people from the market square through the city streets and back to the cathedral for a service this Palm Sunday.

There’s an Easter Garden in the cathedral and events during Holy Week include children’s workshops, family services, and an Easter crafts and Egg hunt on Easter Day.

Full details of the Holy Week programme can be found on their website.

People in Lichfield too will be led by a donkey on a traditional Palm Sunday Procession to the service in the Cathedral.

The Dean, the Very Revd Adrian Dorber said:

“The procession and the cross remind us that the events we recall took place in full public view, and these signs and gestures are an invitation to everyone to wonder what this man, Jesus, acclaimed as the “Christ”, the anointed one, means for us all today”.

The event marks the start of a week of services in the cathedral counting down to a day of celebration on Easter Sunday.

Chichester Cathedral is inviting people to join them on the journey that follows the events of Jesus’ last days with services available to watch online on the Cathedral website.  On Easter Day, they will begin the service outside, gathered around a new fire to mark Easter Day from which the Paschal Candle is lit.

Holy Week and Easter will be marked at Bradford Cathedral with a programme of services and events starting with the Palm Sunday Eucharists and on the Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday of Holy Week, Professor Ben Quash will offer three reflections under the theme of ‘This is my Body, Given for You’, which uses a series of artworks to aid meditation and will each be followed by sung night prayer, led by the choir.

Bach’s St John’s Passion will mark the start of Holy Week at Truro Cathedral on Palm Sunday with special reflective services during the week and an outdoor dawn service with fire as Easter Day breaks.

The ten stations of the cross, by artist Zoe Cameron, have returned to Truro Cathedral which commissioned them specifically to fit into the Cathedral’s stone arches in All Saints Chapel, all except Christ on the Cross which hangs in front of the altar table. The work was displayed on site for the first time in January 2013 and has been brought back this year for the first time.

Artist Zoe said:

“It seems significant that the paintings are returning to the Chapel in the wake of the Pandemic, which has taken us on our own painful journeys. As in the Stations of The Cross, we have felt fear for the future, the need to find inner strength and the all-consuming desolation of grief and loss.”

Ely Cathedral is hosting an Art of Easter study day this Saturday (April 9) led by Fiona Lucraft who will explore some classic and more modern images of Easter in art, in a session which will give input and ask for reflection and questions.

Tickets are free but booking is essential. You can book here.

Ely’s Holy Week and Easter services have parallel services for children too, with worship for children with crafts, an Easter trail, and an Easter egg hunt. There is a Tenebrae service, a candlelit compline and other meditations in words and music. 

Palm Sunday Cathedral 2

Photo – Christ in Glory, Peter Ball

Their Easter schedule can be found here.

Salisbury Cathedral will reflect the events that unfold throughout Holy Week and Easter; stripped bare on Holy Saturday, it will burst into life with an Easter fire and unique floral expressions on Easter Day.

Palm Sunday Salisbury Cathedral

Photo – Ash Mills

There are over 30 services taking place in the Cathedral, starting with the Holy Week concert on Wednesday 13 April. Sung by the Cathedral choir, the concert features, amongst other choral works, Allegri’s Miserere and ends with a performance of Lo, the full, final sacrifice, written by the English composer Gerard Finzi, who lived and worked in Aldbourne, Wiltshire prior to WWII, later moving to Ashmansworth, near Newbury where he died in 1956. During the war years Finzi opened up his home to German and Czech refuges, a sobering echo of what is happening in this country today.