"Great and Holy Friday"




In Orthodox tradition, the Crucifixion is celebrated as the root of our new Life in Christ. The Wood of the Cross, where the Lord hung in death, becomes the Tree of Life through which Christians can receive the fruits of Christ's Passion and enter into the fullness of the heavenly life.

St. Athanasius of Alexandria considered God's purpose in the Crucifixion: "that He might draw His ancient people with His One hand and the Gentiles with the other, and join both together in Himself" (On the Incarnation). Another Church Father said: "While the catalyst for the death of mankind was taken from Adam's side as he slept, the side of the reprising Christ becomes the source of Life."

In Orthodox teaching, the death of the God-Man does not serve to settle an account or to satisfy Divine Justice, rather, if frees man from the yoke of darkness and from the Evil-One who has been defeated.

"When the Mother beheld the Lamb, Shepherd and Savior of the world hanging upon the Cross, she cried: ‘The world rejoices in that it has received salvation, but my bowels are ablaze when I behold Thy crucifixion which Thou endurest for the sake of all, O my Son and my God.’" (Troparia of the Ninth Hour from the Horologion – the Book of Hourly Prayers).

This icon stresses God's willingness to ascend to the Cross at His Crucifixion. Christ's face is turned towards His Mother, who stands among other women at the foot of the cross with St. John the Beloved. On either side of Christ, two angels are depicted carrying a cloth in reverence and adoration. Two soldiers are represented: one holding a spear towards Christ's right side and the other a sponge filled with gall. According to tradition, it is Adam's skull that appears beneath the Cross.



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