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Holy Thursday in the City returns to the Diocese of Wilmington on April 1

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Last Supper
Renaissance painter Tintoretto's "The Last Supper" is displayed at the Holy See's official Pavilion at Milan Expo 2015. Gospel accounts of the Last Supper are central to the church's understanding of the sacrament of the Eucharist. (CNS photo/courtesy Holy See Pavilion Press Office)

After a year’s hiatus, “Holy Thursday in the City” returns to eight Catholic churches in the Diocese of Wilmington on April 1. The Easter Triduum tradition involves a liturgy at each of the churches, after which participants are encouraged to visit the others.

The participating churches are as follows, along with the time until which they will remain open: Cathedral of St. Peter, 9 p.m.; St. Ann, 10:30 p.m.; St. Anthony of Padua, 11 p.m.; St. Thomas the Apostle, 10 p.m.; St. Elizabeth, 10 p.m.; St. Hedwig, 10 p.m.; St. Paul, 11 p.m.; and St. Joseph, 9 p.m.

At the conclusion of the Holy Thursday Mass, each parish will process the Blessed Sacrament to a special place of reposition in preparation for Good Friday services. It commemorates those hours Jesus spent in the Garden of Gethsemane.

St. Thomas will hold a Tenebrae service on March 31 at 7 p.m., and St. Hedwig will have a Tenebrae service at 10 p.m. on April 1. Tenebrae is a service held during the three days before Easter that is characterized by the gradual extinguishing of candles, ending in total darkness.

Holy Thursday signals the end of Lent and the beginning of the Holy Triduum, which ends on Easter Sunday. Visiting seven churches is a tradition that grew from the time of prayer and adoration after the Holy Thursday Mass. The practice may have originated in Rome, where pilgrims would visit the seven major basilicas.