Saint Brigid Religious Education
100 Mayflower Street
West Hartford, CT 06110
Good Friday ~ Between March 20th and April 23rd
Friday (also called "Great Friday" or "Holy Friday") Of the numerous
Christian holy days on the liturgical calendar, Good Friday is perhaps
the most solemn and profound memorial. The dates of Good Friday, which
vary by calendar year, occur between March 20th and April 23rd. Good
Friday commemorates the crucifixion of Jesus and falls on the last
Friday before Easter. The Temple of the Body of Christ is destroyed and
it is the pinnacle of Holy Week, and Christians observe this day with
great humility and reverence.
As early as the first century, the Church set aside every Friday as a
special day of prayer and fasting. It was not until the fourth century,
however, that the Church began observing the Friday before Easter as the
day associated with the crucifixion of Christ. First called Holy or
Great Friday by the Greek Church, the name "Good Friday" was adopted by
the Roman Church around the sixth or seventh century.
There are two possible origins for the name "Good Friday". The first may
have come from the Gallican Church in Gaul (modern-day France and
Germany). The name "Gute Freitag" is Germanic in origin and literally
means "good" or "holy" Friday. The second possibility is a variation on
the name "God's Friday," where the word "good" was used to replace the
word "God," which was often viewed as too holy for commoners to speak.
Friday rituals and traditions are distinct from those of all other
Church observances and add to Good Friday's considerable significance.
The entire ceremony is somber, with priests and deacons dressing in
black vestments. The pulpit and the altar are bare, and no candles are
lit. The purpose behind the solemn presentation is to create an
awareness of grief over the sacrifice of God's only begotten Son.
Starting anytime between midnight and 3 a.m., priests and other clerics
begin to recite specific prayers. At the morning ceremony, the priest or
church official recites lessons from the scriptures. Afterwards, there
is a succession of prayers asking for God's mercy and forgiveness on all
At the noon hour comes the Adoration of the Cross, where a
representation of the True Cross is unveiled and the clergy and laity
pay homage to the sacrifice of Christ. In the Jerusalem Church, a
remnant of the True Cross itself is presented for the ceremony. Next
comes the Mass of the Presanctified, in which the priest or church
official takes Communion from the host that was blessed during the
Maundy Thursday ceremony. The ceremony concludes around 3 p.m. with a
procession, which is followed by evening prayers.
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