Friday, April 10, 2009

Holy Thursday and Good Friday in Jerusalem

By way of the Italian blog Cantuale Antonianum I have come across a video which an Italian pilgrim took at last year's Maundy Thursday Mass in the Church of the Holy Sepulchre in Jerusalem. While it is evidently an amateur video, it gives a rather good impression of the ceremonies there. NLM readers will be pleased to note how many traditional elements have been preserved in the liturgy there; e.g. virtually everything is sung in Latin, the altar is set up against the Holy Sepulchre so that priest and faithful together face versus Deum, and a large traditonal canopy as well as an umbella are used in the theophoric procession at the end of Mass. Of special interest is a circumstance particular to that church, but because of its importance as the actual place where our salvation was accomplished, not without significance for the liturgy in a more general sense: The altar of repose, where the Blessed Sacrament is reserved after Mass is the Holy Sepulchre proper. Therefore, it would seem that the traditional practice in many countries (including Germany) of calling the altar of repose the Holy Sepulchre makes good sense.

I then found another video by the same pilgrim of the liturgy of Good Friday in the Church of the Holy Sepulchre. Here I would like to draw you attention to the point in the Passion when "tradidit spiritum" is sung. While the rest of the liturgy is celebrated in the Catholic Chapel of the Nailing of the Cross (the right half of Calvary, the left being the actual place of the Crucifixion, Golgotha proper, belonging to the Greek Orthodox), at this point the cleric goes over to the rock of Calvary, and after having sung "tradidit spiritum", when everyone kneels down, he kneels beneath the altar and kisses the actual place where the Cross of our Redeemer stood.

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