Icon of the Epitaphios – F54


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Movable Church Feast Day 1

Great & Holy Friday


Egg Tempera


Byzantine Museum, Athens, Greece


Lambardos, Emmanuel


17th c. (Early)


This moving early 17th century Cretan icon was painted by the famous iconographer Emmanuel Lambardos.  The Lord of Life has died for us a most painful and humiliating death and is here laid down before His Cross.  St. Joseph of Arimathea has just taken Him down, and is beginning to wrap His legs with a clean linen cloth while St. Nicodemos, leaning against a ladder, looks on.  The Most Holy Virgin cradles her Son tenderly in her arms and laments with St. John the Beloved Disciple leaning over and the Myrrh-Bearing Women wailing and weeping behind them.  It is the saddest day in all of history, yet brings the promise of life for us.

Now almost two thousand years later, we are so familiar with the story of Christ’s redemption of the human race by His Passion, Death, Burial, and Resurrection, we can forget the very real and immediate grief and bewilderment that those closest to Him felt on this Great and Holy Friday.  They did not understand the fullness of what had happened theologically, or how God would use this to effect our salvation.  What they did know, deeply and personally, was the Light and Love of their life had just died.