Thousands of Catholics throughout the Archdiocese of Washington will observe the death and resurrection of Christ during Holy Week and Easter services, and nearly 1,200 teens and adults will be baptized or confirmed Catholic during Easter Vigil Masses. Washington Archbishop Donald W. Wuerl will lead a number of liturgies:

Thursday, April 1, 5:30 p.m.: Holy Thursday, Mass of the Lord's Supper

Cathedral of St. Matthew, 1725 Rhode Island Ave., N.W.

During this Mass, which starts the Triduum - the three final days before Easter - Archbishop Wuerl will wash the feet of 12 people, as Christ washed the feet of the apostles at the Last Supper. After Mass, the altar and sanctuary will be stripped of all ornamentation to prepare for Good Friday, the day Christ died on the cross, and the Eucharist will be moved in solemn procession to a side chapel.

Friday, April 2, 1 p.m.: Liturgy of the Lord's Passion and Veneration of the Cross.

Cathedral of St. Matthew

No Masses are celebrated in Catholic churches on Good Friday. Archbishop Wuerl will preside at a Liturgy of the Word and Veneration of the Cross. During the Veneration of the Cross, the people will come forward to kiss a crucifix, recalling Christ's death for our salvation. The tradition dates back to the late 4th century when, according to legend, Helen, the mother of Constantine, discovered the true cross in Jerusalem.

Saturday, April 3, 8 p.m.: Easter Vigil Mass (starts with fire on front steps).

Cathedral of St. Matthew

No Masses are celebrated in Catholic Churches this day until the evening Vigil. In an ancient rite, a giant fire will be lit on the steps of the Cathedral to symbolize the resurrection of Christ, the light of the world. From that fire, candles held by the more than 1,000 members of the congregation will be lit one by one until the darkened church is full of candlelight. As the Gloria is sung, the cathedral lights will be turned on as the celebration of Christ's coming resurrection will begin. Adults preparing to become Catholic will be baptized and confirmed during the Mass, and at Masses throughout the Archdiocese of Washington. Archbishop Wuerl will celebrate the Mass at the Cathedral.

Sunday, April 4: Easter Sunday Masses

Archbishop Wuerl will celebrate two Easter Sunday Masses: 10 a.m. at the Cathedral of St. Matthew and noon at the Basilica of the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception, 400 Michigan Ave., N.E. In addition, Auxiliary Bishop Francisco Gonzalez, S.F., will celebrate a 2:30 p.m. Mass in Spanish at the Basilica.