BALTIMORE (WJZ) — A special holy day for Christians in Baltimore and around the world as Easter celebrations kicked off Sunday morning.

Monique Griego was at the Basilica for a very special Mass.

Parishioners filed into the Baltimore Basilica to celebrate the resurrection of Christ.

“I like an old church, a traditional church, and this is the epitome of it,” said Joe LoBianco.

“It’s just such a beautiful place. You can just feel the aura about it,” said Hope Ritz.

This Easter Sunday marks the grand reopening of the Basilica, which was closed for months so construction crews could repair cracks caused by the East Coast earthquake.

“It’s a combination of excitement. It’s Easter Sunday, when we celebrate the resurrection of Christ. It’s also the day when we get to have our Basilica restored back to us again in its splendor,” said Monsignor Art Valenzano, the rector of the Basilica.

For many Catholics, this year’s Easter celebration is even more special.

“I think the reopening of the church, the newly elected pope and all that brings together a nice celebration of Easter,” said Robert Ordemann.

Many agree the installation of Pope Francis is breathing new life into the church.

“It’s ignited my faith a little more, put it back in the open,” said Jennifer Donovan.

“There’s this simplicity, there’s joy, there’s new energy and new life. This Easter is truly a time of great hope for all of us,” said Archbishop William E. Lori.

This Easter is the first in Baltimore for new Archbishop Lori. For him, the combination of church tradition mixed with so much new hope made for a perfect Easter Mass celebration.

Sunday, it was announced that before stepping down, Pope Benedict awarded the Basilica’s Monsignor Valenzano with the highest level of rector.


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