Countess of Wessex lights candle for victims of Covid-19 pandemic at All Souls’ Day service at Westminster Abbey

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he Countess of Wessex lit a candle to remember all those who have lost their lives to Covid-19 this year.

The moving hour-long ceremony, held to commemorate the “Faithful Departed”, had “added poignancy” this year because of the coronavirus pandemic.

Sophie led prayers inside the abbey and then lit a candle to remember the dead.

Sophie, 55, wearing a metal poppy punned to her black dress, removed her pale blue face mask to read bible passage Romans 5: 5 – 11 from The New Testament.

She took off her mask a second time and sanitised her hands before and after Holy Communion as prayers were given for the thousands of lives lost to the pandemic.

Around 150 people in the congregation sat at socially-distanced intervals inside the abbey with their faces covered.

The Sung Eucharist for All Soul’s Day was held partnership with Loss and HOPE, a coalition of church denominations across the country.

The group was set up in March as Covid-19 began to first sweep the nation.

It directs people in grief to take part in group sessions via The Bereavement Journey.

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They hold up to six sessions on the course which was set up by Jane Oundjian more than twenty years ago.

Those suffering from the loss of loved ones and family members have been forced to join group zoom calls due to Covid restrictions.

Rev Dr Sarah Archer, project leader, said: “The ceremony has extra poignancy this year due to coronavirus.

“And The Bereavement Journey course is a very useful resource for the year that we have had.

“Some people have already found the course much better meeting face to face as they are more comfortable in their home surroundings on Zoom.”

The service was held to offer a message of comfort and hope during a time when the pandemic has increased the number of bereaved people across the country, organisers added.

All Souls’ Day is a day of prayer and remembrance for those who have died, observed annually by Christian denominations.

The service is held every year to remember those who have died during the past twelve months.

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The 5pm service was conducted by the Dean of Westminster, the Very Reverend Dr David Hoyle, who gave the sermon.

Matthew Arnoldi, Head of Protocol, Westminster Abbey, who gave an Old Testament reading.

Amd Canon Yvonne Richmond Tulloch, Founder of At a Loss, lead the prayers.

The Choir of Westminster Abbey, directed by Organist and Master of the Choristers, James O’Donnell, sang the service.

Evening Standard – News