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Holy Shroud

Icon HOLY SHROUD expresses the death of the Savior that was for us men and for our salvation. The Holy Shroud places us at the event of Christ's death and burial. Through the Holy Shroud we enter into the Gospel witness.

In the Gospel of John (19: 38-42) we read of Joseph, a noble and rich man of the city of Armathea, and Nicodemus, a leader among the Pharisees. After the death of Christ, they had the courage to claim His body and place it in Joseph's own tomb, newly hewn out of the rock.This event of our salvation is expressed iconographically in the Holy Shroud. The Shroud is a winding sheet with the image of Christ's body lying dead in the tomb. Surrounding the image are the words of the Tro-parion: "The noble Joseph took down from the cross Your most pure body. Anointing it with spices, he wrapped it in pure linen, and placed it in a new tomb." The figures on the shroud present a great insight into this event of our salvation. The face of Christ bears no bitterness, but rather expresses a feeling of total inner peacefulness and tranquility. The Virgin Mother of God embraces the body of her Son with extreme tenderness. This is her moment of utter grief, yet it is one of acceptance. St. John the Evangelist bows over the body of Christ, as Joseph of Arimathea and Nicodemus begin to place the body into the winding sheet. In the corners of the Holy Shroud are placed the icons of the Four Evangelists who witness this divine mystery in their Gospels. Some icons also show the Mother of God being comforted by Mary, wife of Cleopas, and Mary Magdalen.

The Church celebrates this solemn event in the Vespers of Great and Holy Friday.

When the Arimathean lifted You, lifeless, from the cross, O Lord of Life, he anointed You, O Christ, with myrrh and wrapped You in a shroud; and he was moved by heart-felt love to kiss Your body not subject to decay, but was restrained by fear, and rejoicing, he cried out to You: "Glory to Your condescension, O Lover of Mankind!"

On Great Friday, at the evening service, the priest and people go in procession carrying the Shroud as if in funeral cortege. The Shroud is placed in the tomb and venerated. Christ has encountered death and we await the announcement, at the Resurrection Matins, of His victory over death.

TROPARION — The noble Joseph took down from the cross Your most pure body. Anointing it with spices, he wrapped it in pure linen, and placed it in a new tomb.