Pictured: Joey the donkey leads Palm Sunday procession to York Minster

The Palm Sunday procession passes through Stonegate in York
The Palm Sunday procession passes through Stonegate in York

Joey the donkey took a leading role today (Sunday, April 13) as he led the choir, clergy and congregation from St Helen’s Square to York Minster.

The Palm Sunday procession marks the start of York Minster’s Holy Week. It is one of the busiest times of the year for the cathedral – the only one 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.

The Palm Sunday procession left St Helen’s Square at 10am, recalling 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 (April 20).

Head Verger Alex Carberry waits with Joey the Donkey for the start of the procession
Head Verger Alex Carberry waits with Joey the Donkey for the start of the procession
The procession start from St Helen's Square in York
The procession start from St Helen’s Square in York

Easter Vigil

On the evening of Easter Saturday (April 19) 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 10am, 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 series, The Minster.