March 30th, 2013

Great and Holy Friday 2013

On Great and Holy Friday, all gather for the Vespers of the Taking-Down from the Cross, commemorating the Deposition from the Cross. The Gospel reading is a concatenation taken from all four of the Gospels. During the service, the body of Christ (the soma) is removed from the cross, as the words in the Gospel reading mention Joseph of Arimathea, wrapped in a linen shroud, and taken to the altar in the sanctuary.

Near the end of the service a plashchanytsa or “winding sheet” (a cloth embroidered with the image of Christ prepared for burial) is carried in procession three times around the church to a low table in the nave which represents the Tomb of Christ. This procession, with the faithful carrying lighted candles, represents Christ’s descent into Hades. The plashchanytsa itself represents the body of Jesus wrapped in a burial shroud, and is a roughly full-size cloth icon of the body of Christ.

Once the plashchanytsa is placed on the tomb, the faithful walk on their knees to reverence the icon of the Lord, kissing the wounds upon His hands, feet, and side.

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