Friday, April 2, 2010

Aghia kai Megali Paraskevi - Good Friday - O Epitafios - O Glyky mou Ear

Decorating the Epitafio at Evangelismos Tis Theotokou, 
Good Friday 1959, Wellington New Zealand
Father Elias G Economou


Usually in mid-afternoon in churches abroad, but in the late morning in Greece, Great Vespers is chanted. During this service, we hear the story of the Crucifixion, but with attention paid to the death of Christ, the work of Joseph of Arimathea to secure the body of Christ from Pilate, His removal from the cross, and His burial.

During the service, the Body of Christ is removed from the cross, wrapped in a white cloth (shroud)  and brought into the sanctuary. Following the reading, the priest carries the icon of the Epitafio through the church and places it in the Sephulcher (the kouvouklion), which has been decorated with flowers.


On Holy Friday evening, we sing the Orthros of Holy Saturday, consisting of psalms, hymns and readings, dealing with the death of Christ. During the Orthros, the congregation will join in chanting the Lamentations, ta Egkomia, hymns of praise to the Lord and relating His ultimate triumph over death. 

During this service the icon of the Epitafio is carried in procession around the church while the priests, choirs and congregation sing the most beautiful hymns of Holy Week, 

I Zoi en Tafo - Η Ζωή εν Τάφω

Aksion Esti - Αξιον Εστί

Ai Geneai ai Pasai - Αι γένεαι Πάσαι...

In Greece, and in most communities abroad, the entire flower-bedecked Epitafio, symbolising the Tomb, is carried in a procession around the neighbourhood of the church, or within the church if the weather is not good. 

Evangelismos Tis Theotokou, Wellington New Zealand 
Good Friday 1959
Father Elias G Economou officiating

In some towns around Greece and in Athens centre, all the processions gather in one central point, usually the main plateia or square, and the service continues there with all the faithful gathered together. 

It is an awesome sight indeed and the aroma of the beautiful spring flowers which adorn the Epitafio pervades the atmosphere. 

Decorating the Epitafio is one of the beloved rituals of young and old alike, and is generally carried out after the early morning Orthro service in our communities  abroad. 

   In Greece, because the Apokathilosi service takes place immediately after the morning vespers, the Epitafio is decorated straight after the Dodeka Evaggelia and usually finishes early in the morning. We lasted until 2 am ...

All of Good Friday people file come to pay their respects, filing past the Epitafio, crossing themselves and bowing their head in homage to the body of Christ in the Sepulcher right up to the time of the perifora (procession).

The coloured photos in the post are from the decoration of the Epitafio last night and from today's services in our small church, Profitis Elias, an eksoklisi in the northern suburbs of Athens... The black and white ones from the Holy Week 1959 at the first Evangelismos Church in Wellington, New Zealand, under the guidance of Father Elias Economou.
Καλή Ανάσταση! Kali Anastasi!

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