Kris Snibbe/Harvard Staff Photographer

Campus & Community

Easter at Memorial Church

3 min read

Harvard Rituals

The Great Vigil of Easter at the Memorial Church, which celebrates the resurrection of Jesus, is a time for new beginnings in the Christian faith, including baptisms. Its spiritual meanings are illuminated through the window of experience that the participants have shared.

Marina Connelly ’12 said, “It is a miraculous point of beginning and regeneration, a ritual that extends far beyond the bounds of the Yard.”

Recounting the joy of presenting his daughter for baptism during the vigil, Alexis Goltra ’92 said, “My wife and I wanted to baptize Josephine at Harvard because we feel so connected to Memorial Church. I know of no other ministry that can simultaneously challenge and inspire one’s faith so profoundly.”

Diana Eck, professor of comparative religion and Indian studies and a member of the Divinity School faculty, said, “To me, the Great Vigil of Easter is the most dramatic liturgy of the Christian year. I love it both as a Christian and as a historian of religion. There we are, midnight, outside the darkened church. The fire is kindled, we light our candles and enter the sanctuary as the story of creation from Genesis is read, then the crossing of the Red Sea, and on to the rest of the great narrative, right to the empty tomb. Symbolically, it’s a return to the beginning.”