Good Friday – How was it remembered in Tudor times?

Posted By on April 3, 2015

the_passionOn Good Friday in the sixteenth century, people would attend a church ceremony known as “Creeping to the Cross”. Jesus Christ’s suffering and crucifixion, and what it meant, were commemorated by the clergy getting down on their hands and knees and creeping up to a crucifix held up before the altar. This “creeping” would culminate in the clergy kissing the feet of Christ on the cross. The crucifix was then taken down into the church for the congregation to do the same.

Another tradition on this day was the preparing of the Easter Sepulchre. The sepulchre consisted of a stone or wooden niche, to represent Christ’s sealed tomb. This sepulchre was filled with the consecrated host and an image of Christ. It was sealed by covering it with a cloth and then candles were lit around it. As the Roman soldiers guarded the tomb of Christ, members of the church would guard the sepulchre until it was opened on Easter Sunday.

Photo: Taken by Tim Ridgway at “La Semana Santa Viviente de Cuevas del Campo”, Easter 2014.

2 thoughts on “Good Friday – How was it remembered in Tudor times?”

  1. Banditqueen says:

    We still have the ceremony of kissing the feet of Christ on the Crucifix held up by the clergy, but we don’t crawl to the cross, we walk reverently. In some countries, I assume Spain do this, Good Friday is a day when the Passion of Jesus is either re enacted by people volunteering to be crucified, although not fatally, or actors and congregation reliving the death of Jesus, his trial and way of the Cross, or with a procession with the crucifted Christ. Here we remember the moment Jesus died, and have a service reading the passion narrative, which is interactive but quite long. The statues are covered as a sign of mourning in purple, the priest wears purple for the blood of Christ and the symbol of his Kingship.

    Behold the Wood on Which Hung the Saviour of the World. Come and Worship. Lord By Your Cross and Resurrection You Have Set Us Free.

    The communion is given out without the prayer for blessing as we use the Hosts blessed on Maundy Thursday and stored in the Tabernacle. Today we have been to the Holy Saturday service and light the Pascal Easter Candle to mark the passing from the tomb to life and first Mass for Easter.

    Happy Easter, Claire, Tim and family and to all the Anne Boleyn community. He is Risen. Halleltjah.

  2. Jane says:

    He is risen indeed, Alleluia!

    Those ceremonies sound very familiar to me, Banditqueen – being a practising Catholic myself. The Easter Triduum is very intense for me, I start to get that prickling at the back of the neck feeling when the altars are stripped of their hangings after the end of High Mass on Maundy Thursday whilst a chorister (usually me) chants the psalm “My God, my God, look upon me, why hast thou forsaken me, and art so far from me and the words of my complaint”. It’s chillingly prophetic. Good Friday we do as Banditqueen describes. When we do Stations of the Cross, when we get to number 12, Jesus Dies On The Cross, we kneel. We also do reverencing the Cross in the manner Banditqueen says, no creeping, but the priests do prostrate themselves before the Cross at the start of the service.

    But there can never be anything to compare with the moment when the great shout goes up on Easter morning and the organ thunders forth with the Easter processional, the church is decked top to toe in white and gold flowers and altar furniture, the priests in their gold vestments, and then at the end the Regina Coeli…always makes me blub I am afraid!

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