QUITO – With helicopter flights over several cities in Ecuador, some Catholic leaders gave the traditional Holy Thursday blessing from the air as a way of adapting the religious commemoration in response to restrictions imposed by the spread of the COVID-19 in the country.
Among them, Giovanni Battista Piccioli, auxiliary bishop of the coastal city of Guayaquil, the most affected by coronavirus in the country, blessed everyone from a helicopter.
All mass gatherings are prohibited in Ecuador, including religious ones, to prevent the spread of the epidemic, which has already infected 4,965 people and caused 272 deaths in the country.
“Our Lord in the Blessed Sacrament blesses all families in Guayaquil,” repeated the bishop from the helicopter, who was carrying one of the sacred sacraments of the liturgy for Easter Week.
According to religious sources, the bishop of Guayaquil will repeat the overflight on Friday, and will also carry the image of the “Christ of Consolation,” which usually would be at the front of the massive Good Friday procession in Guayaquil.
Meanwhile, Marcos Perez, bishop of the Andean city of Cuenca, took a helicopter ride to bless his city on Thursday.
Others did the same in cities such as Quito, Ibarra, Latacunga, Ambato and Riobamba, where many worshippers went out to their terraces to pray.
The Good Friday liturgy is also scheduled to take place behind closed doors in certain churches and will be broadcast on social media networks.
The large, emblematic processions such as those of “Christ of Consolation,” in Guayaquil, or of “Jesus the Almighty,” in Quito, have been cancelled, although the public will be able to follow the liturgy through television and various digital media.
“People can pray from home. We have provided enough material in the official accounts of the archdioceses so that people can pray at each station,” said Luis Cabrera, Archbishop of Guayaquil.
“It is time to understand that God is beyond our temples, he is present in our homes, where we have learned to know, love and serve Jesus, the son of God,” Cabrera added.
Ecuador’s Interior Minister Maria Paula Romo reminded the public on Thursday that a prohibition of massive public gatherings is in force and noted that the liturgical celebrations will be transmitted by public media.
“We understand that these are important celebrations for the faith of millions of fellow citizens, but this in no way excuses leaving the obligatory isolation,” Romo said.
The Municipality of Quito has also called on citizens to celebrate Holy Week in a different way, for example, through the “Museums from Home” project over the internet.
The municipality has prepared some technical articles for the virtual exhibitions that deal with topics such as popular religiosity, art, gender, and the social, cultural and religious history of the city.
The Carmen Alto Convent, located in the colonial district of Quito and which is part of this municipal project, will present the article “The Passion of Jesus Christ” on the website.
The article analyzes religious figures as “the result of various narrative sources, built by the Christian Church, which was based on the Gospels, mystical writings, traditions, legends, historical facts and dogmas of faith,” said the municipality.
It added that the “Museums from Home” project also allows us to observe characteristic statues of Holy Week in a baroque style.