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Guercino, St Peter Weeping before the Virgin (1647), Musée du Louvre, Paris

Holy saturday

On Holy Saturday the Church mourns in prayer and fasting, meditating on Christ’s Passion and Death. There is no Mass during the day as Jesus is still in the tomb. On this day Jesus descended triumphantly into Hades (called the “harrowing of hell”) and brought salvation to the righteous souls held captive there who awaited their promised Messiah, as recited in the Apostle’s Creed. On the night of Holy Saturday the Church celebrates the Vigil of Easter Sunday, the celebration of Christ’s resurrection from the tomb, the traditional time when the Sacraments of Initiation are given to new members of the Church.

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His cross stands empty in a world grown silent through hours of anguish and of dread; in stillness, earth awaits the Resurrection while Christ goes down to wake the dead.”

From a Holy Saturday Divine Office
Carl Heinrich Bloch (Danish, 1834 -1890). Burial of Christ, c. 1873. Frederiksborg Museum of National History, Denmark.

On Holy Saturday the Church waits at the Lord’s tomb in prayer and fasting, meditating on his Passion and Death and on his Descent into Hell, and awaiting his Resurrection.

The Church abstains from the Sacrifice of the Mass, with the sacred table left bare, until after the solemn Vigil, that is, the anticipation by night of the Resurrection, when the time comes for paschal joys, the abundance of which overflows to occupy fifty days.

Holy Communion may only be given on this day as Viaticum.”

Caravaggio (Italian, 1571-1610 ). The Entombment of Christ, 1602-1603. Oil on canvas. Pinacoteca Vaticana, Vatican City, Italy.

He descended into hell.”

Apostles’ Creed
Fra Angelico, Christ in Limbo (1441-1442)

Holy Saturday is a day of profound mystery: Christ is dead and yet he remains busy at work, descending to the underworld to free the righteous held captive in the chains of death. The mournful suspense of Holy Saturday is thus imbued with the certainty of the Resurrection. Though our earthly sojourn be continually tinged by death, we know that our longing to exult in the fullness of redemption is not in vain. The Son of God himself has passed through death to rob it of its apparent finality. In Jesus, life wins.”

Magnificat, April 3, 2021
William Adolphe Bouguereau (1825-1905) , Pieta (1876)

Mary, Mother of Jesus, Mother of the Church, pray for us.

Be not afraid!  And may the peace of Christ be with you and your loved ones today and always.  Holy Family, pray for us.  Amen.

The Holy Family, Murillo
The Heavenly and Earthly Trinities (c. 1675-82) by Bartolomé Esteban Murillo (1617 – 1682)

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