Holy Friday, a Day of Fasting and Mourning


Holy Friday is a day of fasting and absolute mourning. The Greek Orthodox Church reminds us about Jesus’ journey to the Cross and death, about his burial and the triumph of evil over good, until the latter triumphs once again with the Resurrection of Christ.

Twelve Gospels are read on Holy Thursday evening and five on Holy Friday morning narrating the tragic events from the Evangelists’ point of view.

The faithful are reminded of how Christ was betrayed and arrested, about his interrogation and humiliation, his death sentence delivered from the High Priests and Pilate, Peter’s denial and repentance, the road to Calvary, Christ’s crucifixion, death, burial and the sealing of the tomb.

Jesus was crucified at 9am, while his torment lasted six hours, until 3 p.m. when he passed away, saying: “It is finished” (“Tetelestai”). At sundown, Joseph of Arimathea and Nicodemus – two of Jesus’ secret disciples — removed his body from the Cross and buried him in a rock-hewn tomb.

On Holy Friday morning all gather again to pray the Royal Hours — a special expanded celebration of the Little Hours =- in place of the Divine Liturgy. In the afternoon, around 3 p.m., all gather for the Vespers of the Taking Down from the Cross and near the end of the service an Epitaph (a cloth embroidered with the image of Christ prepared for burial) is carried in procession to a low table in the nave which represents the Tomb of Christ, followed by the procession.

The death of Christ is mankind’s salvation, a source of redemption that comes with his Resurrection.