Iraq: Holy Saturday Vigil and First Paschal Mass

As Holy Saturday drew towards a close the people of St George Baghdad assembled at the west end of the church for the kindling of New Fire and the blessing and lighting of the Paschal Candle. Fr Faiz Jerjes, parish priest, carried the lit candle through the door and up to the sanctuary, proclaiming three times in Arabic “The light of Christ”, to which all responded “Thanks be to God”, and Bishop Michael sang in English the centuries-old Exsultet, the Easter hymn of praise to Christ the light of the world. Multiple scripture passages about deliverance were read. At last the people burst out in the first Alleluias of the season to welcome the Resurrection Gospel according to St Luke. After communion clergy and servers left in procession accompanied by the heartfelt ululations of the women of the congregation.