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Great and Holy Saturday

The Epitaphios

On this day we celebrate the burial of Christ and His descent into Hades.  At Matins, usually held on Friday evening, the service begins with the 'Praises' (Ed. note - also called Lamentations) sung before the Epitaphion in the center of the church.  The predominant note at this service is not so much one of mourning as of watchful expectation.  For the time being God observes a Sabbath rest in the tomb, but we look forward to the moment when He will rise again, bringing new life and recreating the world:

Great and Holy Friday

Icon of The Crucifixion of our Lord and Savior

On this day we celebrate the sufferings of Christ: the mockery, the crown of thorns, the scourging, the nails, the thirst, the vinegar and gall, the cry of desolation, and all that the Savior endured on the Cross; also the confession of the Good Thief.  At the same time, the Passion is not separated from the Resurrection; even on this day of our Lord's deepest self-abasement, we look forward also the revelation of His eternal glory:

Holy Thursday

Icon of Christ washing the Apostles' feet

On this day four events are celebrated: the washing of the disciples' feet, the institution of the Mystery of the Holy Eucharist at the Last Supper, the agony in the garden of Gethsemane (but the liturgical texts do not dwell much on this), and the betrayal of Christ by Judas.  In certain cathedrals and monasteries, there is a special ceremony of feet-washing at the conclusion of the Liturgy, with the bishop or abbot taking the part of Christ and twelve priests representing the apostles.  At the Ecumenical Patriarchate in Constantinople, and at the centers of other Patriarchates a


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