Greeks to Mark Solemn Holy Friday With Epitaphios Processions



The epitaph procession at the island of Hydra

Good Friday is a profoundly mournful day in Greece which commemorates the Passion of Christ. A nationwide affair, it recalls the moments leading up to and including the crucifixion of Jesus Christ, as told in the New Testament of the Bible.

Even the most remote churches honor the tradition of the Epitaphios (Bier of Christ), creating a pious atmosphere full of tradition.

On Good Friday morning, the Epitaphios is decorated with spring flowers — mostly white, red, and purple — until it is entirely covered.

The Tomb is often sprinkled with flower petals and rosewater, decorated with candles and ceremonially censed as a mark of respect.Then the priest and faithful venerate the Epitaphios as the choir chants hymns, called the “Epitaphic Lamentation.”

The epitaph procession begins around the streets of the city, with bells ringing the funeral toll, commemorating the burial procession of Christ. Accompanying the solemn procession are the people of the congregation, who continually chant the Lamentations.

At the end of the procession, the Epitaphios is brought back to the church. Sometimes, after the clergy carry the Epitaphios in, they will stop just inside the entrance to the church, and hold the Epitaphios above the door, so that all who enter the church will pass under it.

The faithful continue to visit the tomb and venerate the Epitaphios throughout Great Saturday.