Black Saturday


Holy Saturday is sometimes called Easter Eve or Easter Even, especially by Anglicans, Low Saturday. In the Philippines this day bears the name Black Saturday or Sábado de Gloria, the former probably because of black being the colour of mourning (for the deceased Christ) or the “darkness” caused by His “absence” and the latter name due to the Gloria being sung for the first time since Ash Wednesday. On the other hand, in the Czech Republic and Slovakia it is called White Saturday, probably because of white garments of the newly baptized. In Dutch it is known as Silent Saturday (Stille Zaterdag). Holy Saturday is also often incorrectly called Easter Saturday, a term that properly refers to the following Saturday.

Western practice

In Roman Catholic Churches, the sanctuary is stripped completely bare while the administration of the sacraments is severely limited. Holy Communion is given only as Viaticum. All Masses are strictly prohibited. No Mass at all appears in the liturgy for this day. Many of the churches of the Anglican Communion observe most of the same traditions, however their altars are usually stripped or colored in black. See Liturgical colors.

In some Anglican churches, including the Episcopal Church in the United States, provision is made for a simple liturgy of the word on this day, with readings commemorating the burial of Christ.

Liturgically speaking, Holy Saturday lasts until dusk, after which the Easter Vigil is celebrated, marking the official start of the Easter season. In Roman Catholic observance, during the “Gloria” of the Mass (which is the first Mass since that of Holy Thursday), the church statues and icons, in places where they are covered with purple veils during Passiontide, are dramatically unveiled.

Eastern practice

In Eastern Orthodoxy this day, known as Holy and Great Saturday, is also called The Great Sabbath since it is on this day that Christ “rested” physically in the tomb. But it is also believed that it was on this day he performed in spirit the Harrowing of Hell and raised up to Paradise those held captive there. Therefore, at the main liturgical celebration, a vesperal Divine Liturgy of St. Basil the Great, the hangings, altar cloths, and vestments are changed from black to white prior to the Gospel reading, and in the Greek tradition the clergy strew laurel leaves and flower petals all over the church to symbolize the shattered gates and broken chains of hell.

Great Lent was originally the period of catechesis for new converts in order to prepare them for baptism and chrismation on Pascha (Easter). Prior to the composition of the current Paschal Vigil by St. John of Damascus[citation needed] this day’s vesperal Liturgy was the main Easter celebration, and the traditional time to receive converts is still after the Vesperal Liturgy. adapted from Wikipedia

Tomb Monument of the Dead Christ inside St. Bartholome Cathedral in Frankfurt. photos I took last march 15, 2008 during our trip there..

painting of the Dead Christ.. also inside the Imperial Cathedral
as the St. Bartholome Church is called in Frankfurt.


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