Ritual for the Good Friday Procession

In collaboration with Restore the ’54, we are happy to offer our readers a ritual for the procession for the Burial of Christ traditionally held on Good Friday, which we have previously written about here, here, and here.

Rónán Ó Raghallaigh of Restore the ’54 explains:

“They took therefore the Body of Jesus and bound it in linen cloths, with the spices, as the manner of the Jews is to bury.” (John 19:40)

From time immemorial, the Church has reënacted the mysteries of Our Lord’s Passion, Death and Resurrection during the days of Holy Week. The liturgical rites of these days are infused with an ancient beauty and fervour, not seen elsewhere in the ecclesiastical calendar. The Church, as a teaching Mother and an attentive Spouse, instructs her children about the saving work of Christ through various dramatic rites:

• The Palm Sunday Procession,
• Four Passion accounts sung by different characters at varying pitches,
• The Altar of Repose & Adoration,
• The Stripping of the Altars,
• The Ecce Lignum Crucis with the Adoration of the Cross,
• The Lumen Christi,
• The Blessing of the Paschal Candle and Baptismal Water, &c.

One ceremony that was commemorated in many places before the reforms of Trent was the Deposito (Burial of Christ). This rite has survived in the Bragan Missal at the end of the liturgy for the Mass of the Presanctified. In other places it has continued as an extra-liturgical ceremony (in Poland and Germany, and most especially in the Holy Sepulchre itself).

The rite of Burial took place after Vespers on Good Friday. “The first surviving record of this custom…comes from Anglo-Saxon England, in the Regularis Concordia of about 973, though is appears to have originated on the continent at a rather earlier date.’ (Philip Goddard, Festa Paschalia p. 191)

The ceremonial provided here is a condensed version of the original Good Friday Funeral Procession found in the Ordo Processionum (1925) of the Friars Minor in Jerusalem. The rite consists of the following elements:

1. Singing of the antiphon Offerimus Ergo,
2. Funeral Oration (Eulogy) followed by the Miserere Mei Deus,
3. St John’s account of the Burial of Our Lord (the Gospel proper of the Mass of the Presanctified)
4. Removing Our Lord from the Cross, singing of the responsory Velum Templi,
5. Anointing Our Lord with aromatic oils and sprinkling with grains of incense,
6. Wrapping Our Lord in linen cloth and burial, singing of the responsory Sepulto Domino, and
7. Singing of the Christus Factus Est followed by the oration Respice quæsumus.

It is hoped that this ceremonial of the Burial of Christ can, and will, be used in many parishes in order to foster greater devotion to Our Lord and an increased gratitude for the mysteries of His Passion, Death and Resurrection.

2 thoughts on “Ritual for the Good Friday Procession

  1. Anyone who has experienced the Mass of the Pre-Sanctified on Good Friday cannot but notice the abrupt ending of the service before Vespers are said. The mimetic rites of Burial, and corresponding rites of Raising, were clearly once far more common than the vestiges that have surived until modern times.

    Liked by 2 people

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