Holy Week at York Minster

A donkey will lead York Minster’s clergy and congregation from the centre of York to the cathedral on Sunday (13 April) for the Palm Sunday service, which marks the start of Holy Week.

The Palm Sunday procession, which leaves St Helen’s Square at 10am, recalls the entry of Jesus into Jerusalem, days before he is arrested and crucified and one week before he rose from the dead on Easter Sunday (20 April). 

“Last year’s unseasonal snow and ice meant that our procession had to take place within the cathedral itself, but we are hopeful that the weather will be much kinder to us this year, and we will be able to start the service once again in St Helen’s Square, before walking through the streets to the Minster,” comments Canon Peter Moger.  “We’ll welcome back Joey the donkey to lead us along the way, and the choir will lead our singing as we walk.  The public are welcome to join us for the procession and we would hope that many choose to follow us into the Minster to share in the Liturgy of Palm Sunday, marking the start of Holy Week.”

Holy Week is one of the busiest times of the year for York Minster, which is the only cathedral in the country to host daily Choral Evensong from Palm Sunday every day until Easter Sunday.  Additional services take place throughout the week to reflect the solemnity of the days leading up to Christ’s crucifixion, marked on Good Friday.

On the evening of Easter Saturday (19 April) preparations begin for the Easter celebrations, including the Easter Vigil.  This unique service takes place in darkness in the space beneath York Minster’s central tower, and sees cloths and remaining oil from the year’s services burnt, before a new candle is lit. Following the Service of Light and Service of Lessons (a series of readings) those present then move to the Crypt, where baptisms and confirmations take place by candlelight, in advance of the first Easter Communion.

Easter Sunday traditionally hosts one of the busiest services of the year, Solemn Eucharist at 10.00am, which features the full York Minster Choir and at which the Archbishop of York will preside and preach.

Throughout Holy Week, visitors to York Minster will see the Easter Garden, located beneath the Five Sisters Window in the North Transept.  A bare cross hangs beneath the central tower, which is draped with a white cloth ready for the Easter Sunday service – a procedure that will be familiar to those who watched the recent BBC1 Yorkshire series, The Minster.

A host of activities for families and children are also planned for Holy Week, including Little Explorer Backpacks and trail sheets for children, and Easter trails for adult visitors.  Revealing York Minster in the Undercroft – the cathedral’s latest visitor attraction which is soon to celebrate its first full year of opening – will be open throughout the week, allowing visitors to explore 2000 years of history through interactive underground chambers. Visitors will also be able to explore The Orb in the East End of the Minster and see the latest conserved panel of medieval stained glass taken from the Great East Window, which depicts an angel pruning vines, with horses outside the raised portcullis of a walled city.

For more information on services, events and activities at York Minster over the Easter period, please visit www.yorkminster.org


For further media information or photographs, please contact:

Jay Commins

Pyper York Limited

Tel:         01904 500698

Email:    jay@pyperyork.co.uk