Holy Saturday: The Lamenation or Desposition from the Cross

The story which follows the crucifixion of Jesus appears in several Gospels.

Matthew (27: 55-61) tells of the many women who were there. They had followed Jesus from Galilee, and had provided for him. Among these were Mary Magdalene, and Mary the mother of James and Joseph, and the mother of the sons of Zebedee. (Mark adds Salome.)


When it was evening, there came a rich man from Arimethea, named Joseph. He went to Pilate and asked for the body of Jesus, and Pilate ordered it to be given to him. So Joseph took the body, wrapped it in a clean linen cloth, and laid it in his own new tomb. He then rolled a great stone to the door of the tomb. Mary Magdalene and the other Mary were there. Luke adds: It was the day of preparation and the Sabbath was beginning. The women prepared spices and ointments.

John adds: Nicodemus, who had at first come to Jesus by night, also came, bringing a mixture of myrrh and aloes, weighing about one hundred pounds.

The Lamentation of Christ is a very common subject in Christian art from the Middle Ages to the Baroque.

The model for this icon comes from Ethiopia. Several parts of the story are included in the one icon – the women looking on at the empty crosses (left corner), – The wrapping of Jesus by Joseph of Arimethea while the head of Jesus rested in the lap of Mary, and Mary Magdalene looks on, – and finally the wrapped body is placed in the tomb (right top). The tree which is central may depict the new life which will come with the Resurrection.



Almighty God, whose precious Son, Jesus Christ, ministered to the spiritual needs of Nicodemus under cover of darkness, and was himself, in turn, cared for quietly on the dark night of his death; we thank you that the reverberation of such actions continues until the present time, and offers impetus and encouragement to all who seek to meet the “night” needs of people everywhere.          (From John Carden: A Procession of Prayers)

Merciful God, whose servant, Joseph Arimethea, with reverence and godly fear, prepared the body of our Lord and Saviour for burial, and laid it in his own tomb; Grant us, your faithful people, grace and courage to love and serve Jesus with sincere devotion all the days of our lives.                                       (USA. Feast of Joseph of Arimethea, 31 July)