Text and photos by Michael Varaklas
A woman wearing a mask stands alone with crossed arms on her balcony and watches the procession as it passes under her home.
Worshipers attended the Epitaph’s procession on Good Friday, under a nationwide lockdown and measures to prevent the spread of COVID-19. Dozens of people gathered in Saint Tryphon’s church, at the village of Vytina in Peloponnese, Greece, on a warm afternoon, wearing masks as the government measures mandate.
Early in the afternoon, the church was almost empty. A few women tending to the church were making preparations, while others were kneeling in front of the Epitaph praying. As time went by, more people went to church, and the mass started a little while after the priest arrived.
During the mass, chanters were chanting hymns while some women reading from small books were accompanying them in silence. Young boys and girls were holding candles and crosses. Worshipers stood for hours inside and outside the church, holding candles, chanting hymns, and waiting for the procession to begin.
The route was a lot shorter than usual this year. “We are about to begin. Because of the situation, we will not take our usual route,” said the priest of Saint Tryphon’s church. When the time came, people gathered outside the church, and children were peaking inside. Four young men lifted the Epitaph on their shoulders, and the procession was ready to begin.
The young boys dressed in religious clothes led the procession, followed by the priest, the chanters, and finally the worshipers. Almost everyone was chanting hymns, and there was a feeling of deep devoutness.
An elderly woman sitting on her balcony watched the procession and chanted along. Another one, also alone on her balcony, was wearing a mask as she watched the procession from above.
A few people were recording the procession on their phones and streaming it on social media. Children seemed very happy to be part of this. They were wearing masks, but their eyes were glowing in happiness.
After the procession completed the circle around the church, the Epitaph holders stood still, and worshipers walked under it to receive the blessing. When the Epitaph was back in the church, the worshipers left.
They will be back the next day to celebrate the Ressurection.