Summary of the Holy Week Services and Schedule

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Saturday of Lazarus: (Saturday before Palm Sunday):

Commemoration of the raising of Lazarus from the tomb in Bethany by Christ - the foretaste of our Lord’s Resurrection a week later.

Palm Sunday:

Triumphal Entry of Jesus into Jerusalem – distribution of palms to the faithful.

Palm Sunday Evening:

Matins of Holy Monday - the first of four “Bridegroom Services” – An icon of Christ, “Extreme Humility,” is carried in procession around the church and then venerated by the faithful. Christ, the “Bridegroom” is sacrificing Himself for His Bride, the Church. Commemoration is also made of Joseph (Genesis 37), and the fig tree cursed by Christ (Matthew 21).

Great and Holy Monday:

Matins of Holy Tuesday – Commemoration of the “Wise Virgins” (Matthew 25)

Great and Holy Tuesday:

Matins of Holy Wednesday – Commemoration of the anointing of the Lord with myrrh by the woman in Bethany.

Great and Holy Wednesday:

In the morning, Presanctified Liturgy (communion from the consecrated Gifts from the previous Sunday).

In the evening, the Mystery (Sacrament) of Holy Unction is celebrated. The Faithful are anointed with the Oil of Healing.

Great and Holy Thursday Morning:

Great Vespers and Divine Liturgy of St. Basil the Great in commemoration of the Institution of the Holy Eucharist. The priest sanctifies and preserves a portion of the Holy Gifts as, “Reserve Sacrament,” which is placed in a special container (Tabernacle) on the Holy Altar Table where it will remain and be used throughout the following year as Communion for the sick or homebound.

Great and Holy Thursday Evening:

The reading of the Twelve Gospel accounts of the Passion of our Lord and Savior. Procession of the crucifix, commemorating the crucifixion of Christ.

Great and Holy Friday Morning:

The reading of the “Royal Hours,” called such because in Byzantine times, the Emperor and Empress would come to The Great Church (Holy Wisdom in Constantinople) to hear the Gospel accounts of the crucifixion of Christ. During the morning hours, a portable bier (kouvouklion), representing the tomb of Christ, is decorated with flowers. The Epitaphion (an embroidered cloth with an icon of Christ in repose) will be placed in the kouvouklion on Holy Friday afternoon, and taken in procession around the outside of the church on Holy Friday evening.

Great and Holy Friday Afternoon:

Commemoration of the “Taking down from the Cross” of the body of Christ, and placing it in the tomb (Apokathilosis).

Great and Holy Friday Evening:

Commemoration of the burial of Christ. The singing of the Lamentations, funeral hymns, as Christ’s body lies in the tomb. A procession takes place outside the church with all the Faithful following behind the Epitaphion, carrying lighted candles.

Note: Holy Friday is the only day of the calendar year when the Divine Liturgy is never celebrated.

Great and Holy Saturday Morning:

The first announcement – by anticipation – of the Resurrection of our Lord. Vespers of the Resurrection are celebrated in conjunction with the Divine Liturgy of St. Basil.

Note: This is the only Saturday of the calendar year designated as a Fast Day.

Great and Holy Saturday Evening  (Midnight):

Matins (at 11:30 pm) and Divine Liturgy of the Resurrection. The Great Hymn, “Christ is risen from the dead, trampling down death by death, and to those in the tombs, He has granted life,” is chanted multiple times as the Faithful acknowledge the triumph of Christ over the dominion of death. “This is the Lord’s Pascha!” Hard-boiled eggs, dyed red, are distributed to all, as a symbol of the Resurrection of Christ.

Holy Pascha – Late Morning:

The Service of Vespers concludes the cycle of services of Holy Week. The Faithful gather to hear hymns proclaiming the Resurrection, and the Gospel account of the Resurrected Christ’s appearance to Thomas (John 20:19-25) is recited in different languages indicating the universal message of the Resurrection.


Holy Week Schedule of Services



Taking into consideration the necessity of the faithful having to put in a full work-day during Holy Week, and to maximize attendance at the various services celebrated at this time, the daily offices of the entire week are done “in anticipation.” For example, the Service of Matins for Holy Monday is sung on Palm Sunday evening instead of the morning of Holy Monday, and so on throughout the week.

In the sections of the Matins services in the Holy Week Service Book labeled, “Synaxarion,” the priest reads the names to be commemorated on the particular day. The reader then reads the remaining sentences.


Saturday of Lazarus, April 8

Matins 9:15 am

Divine Liturgy 10:00 am

Vespers 5:00 pm

(Confession following Vespers)

Palm Sunday, April 9

Matins 9:15 am

Divine Liturgy 10:00 am

Bridegroom Service 7:00 pm

Potluck following the Liturgy – fish & oil allowed


Holy Monday, April 10

Bridegroom Service 7:00 pm

Holy Tuesday, April 11

Bridegroom Service 7:00 pm

Holy Wednesday, April 12

Presanctified Liturgy 10:00 am

Holy Unction 7:00 pm

Holy Thursday, April 13

10:00 am Great Vespers and the Divine Liturgy of St. Basil

7:00 pm Matins of Great Friday – Reading of the Twelve Gospels

Great Friday, April 14

9:00 am Royal Hours (Decorating of the Koukouvlion)

3:00 pm Great Friday Vespers – the Apokathilosis (The taking down from the Cross

7:00 pm Matins of Holy Saturday, The Lamentations

Holy Saturday, April 15

10:00 am Vespers and Divine Liturgy of St. Basil

11:30 pm Matins of the Resurrection

12:00 Midnight Pascha – The Holy Resurrection Service (Please bring red eggs to share)

Pascha Sunday, April 16

11:30 am Agape Vespers

Paschal Feast follows the service – please bring a side dish or dessert to share.  Roast Lamb will be provided.