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GreekReporter.com Greece Catholics in Greece Celebrate Easter Amid Coronavirus Restrictions

Catholics in Greece Celebrate Easter Amid Coronavirus Restrictions

Easter
The Catholic Church of Saint Paul (Agios Pavlos) in Piraeus. Credit: Enoria Agiou Pavlou Peiraia / Facebook

Many Catholic and Protestant Christians across Greece celebrated Easter on Sunday, April 4 amid the national restrictions imposed due to the Coronavirus pandemic.

This year, the celebration of Easter for Western Christians is almost one full month apart from the celebration of Orthodox Christians.

The last time Christianity celebrated Easter at the same time for all of its denominations was in 2017, and the next time will be 2025.

Catholics in Greece

Of course, Greece is a predominantly Orthodox Christian country, with its traditions deriving from the almost two-millennia long history of the Orthodox Christian Church.

However, Greece is also home to a large Roman Catholic community that has been present in Greece for centuries.

Approximately 70,000 Greek citizens are Catholic Christians, a number that is a mere 0.6 percent of the population of Greece.

Most of them are a remnant of Venetian and Genoese rule in southern Greece and many Greek islands from the early 13th until the late 18th century.

A significant number of them are also descendants of the thousands of Bavarians who came to Greece in the 1830s as soldiers and civil administrators, accompanying King Otto, the first Monarch of the modern Greek state.

However, since the fall of the Iron Curtain, tens of thousands of Eastern Europeans have made Greece their new home.

These communities continue to practice their Roman Catholic traditions, adding a significant number to the Catholic community of Greece.

Their number is still not certain, but the Catholic Church of Greece says that more than 350,000 people of the Catholic tradition now reside in Greece.

The indigenous Catholic communities of Greece are mainly found in Athens, Thessaloniki, Patras, Volos, Kavala, as well as on the Cycladic and the Ionian islands.

Easter and the Western calendar

Easter
Easter eggs. Credit: Jan Kameníček / Public Domain.

The First Ecumenical Synod in 325 AD decided that Easter would be celebrated on the first Sunday after the first full moon of spring.

However, the Catholic Church follows the Gregorian Calendar for this calculation, while the Orthodox Church follows the Julian.

Some Catholics in Greece do celebrate Easter with their Orthodox brethren every year and this will happen again this year, on May 2. The Church in Greece has special permission to celebrate on the date of Eastern churches when appropriate due to family and social solidarity.

For purely astronomical reasons, the difference between the celebration of Easter for Western and Eastern Christianity will be getting wider by quite a few years.

And from 2700 and onward, the celebration of Easter for the Greek Orthodox Church and the western Christian churches will never coincide again.

Altogether, in the whole 21st century, the celebration of Easter will be held common 31 years, but during every forthcoming century, this will happen more and more rarely.

The last time Easter celebrations will coincide is estimated to be in 2698. From then on, Orthodox and western Christians will never celebrate the Resurrection of Christ together again.

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