Switzerland to remember Covid victims in virtual candlelight vigil

From Bern to Zurich (pictured here), people have been lighting candles in memory of the lives lost to the pandemic. The Swiss will now have the chance to light candles collectively online in a show of solidarity and remembrance. Keystone / Alexandra Wey

Starting Saturday, the Swiss will be able to light a candle on the Internet and “flood the map” of the country “with a sea of lights”, in a show of solidarity being organised by Swiss churches.

This content was published on April 2, 2021 - 12:38

The virtual candlelight vigil is a way for people to express hope and gratitude and to remember the lives lost to the pandemic, said the organisers, who represent the country's main Christian institutions. Switzerland recorded just over 9,700 deaths linked to the coronavirus by April 1.

In a pre-recorded video, Guy Parmelin, who holds the rotating Swiss presidency, will light the first candle and thank the people managing the Covid-19 pandemic and helping those affected by it. Anyone living in Switzerland will then be able to light a candle on the site, www.offreunelumiere.chExternal link (available in French, German and Italian).

The website goes live on the eve of Easter – a  traditional Christian celebration of hope – and will be available until Whit Sunday, May 24. It will feature a map of the country lit up by virtual candles. Visitors will have the option of leaving a message with their candle, which will glow in their canton of residence, or sending messages and candles directly to another person.

The Evangelical Reformed Church of Switzerland, the Swiss Bishops' Conference, the Roman Catholic Central Conference, the Christian Catholic Church of Switzerland, the Working Group of Christian Churches in Switzerland and the Swiss Evangelical Network are behind the 50-day initiative.

Lighting candles in memory of Covid victims has been a regular feature on the Federal Square overlooking the parliament building in the capital Bern since November 2020. After passing the milestone of 9,000 coronavirus deaths, in early March the country held a minute's silence and the bells of the three national churches tolled in unison. 

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