The Greek Orthodox tradition holds the Orthros of Holy Saturday (Epitaphios) service highly regarded for its significance. This year, the service at St. Thomas Greek Orthodox Church in Cherry Hill, NJ, was presided over by His Grace Bishop Apostolos of Medeia. The event was made accessible to a global audience through live streaming on Cosmos Philly’s Facebook page and YouTube channel, enabling individuals worldwide to partake in this emotional and profound experience.
Amidst the solemnity of the service, a grand embroidered cloth icon of Christ was reverently transported from the sanctuary to the kouvouklion – a meticulously adorned wooden structure that closely resembles a tomb. The procession culminated with the icon placed in the kouvouklion, with the faithful carrying candles and singing hymns. The solemn ceremony is a poignant reminder of the sacrifice made by Christ for humanity and the sorrowful events that preceded His crucifixion.
The solemnity of the Epitaphios service enables the faithful to experience Christ’s passion, reaffirming their commitment to the Orthodox Christian faith and spiritual devotion. The service is rich in traditions and customs, such as flower decoration of the kouvouklion and fasting, following Orthodox Christian tradition.
The Orthros of Holy Saturday at St. Thomas, with His Grace Bishop Apostolos of Medeia presiding, offered a unique and deeply moving spiritual experience for the faithful. The service’s significance and associated traditions and customs reinforce the Orthodox Christian faith’s rich heritage and spiritual devotion.