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The celebration of Good Friday in the Cathedral

The Passion and Deposition of the Lord

Impresa Tecnoeditoriale Lombarda S
19 March Mar 2019 1740 19 March 2019

If the evening celebration ("Mass in the Lord's Supper") on Holy Thursday commemorates the first act of the Lord's Passion, the evening celebration on Friday is its natural continuation and reaches its climax in the announcement of Christ's death on the Cross, with the reading of the Passion according to Matthew from the point where it was interrupted the previous evening.

The celebration is included in the prayer of the Vespers and the proclamation of the Passion is preceded by two Readings from the Old Testament (taken from the prophet Isaiah) and introduced by the song of the ancient responsory Tenebrae. The particularity of this Responsibility is the Latin text - as it is still performed by the Musical Chapel - because, "in contrast" with the Gospel story, in the Ambrosian version, thethrust of the spear precedes Christ’s death on the cross.

In the Cathedral, according to a duly renewed and adapted tradition, it is the Archbishop himself who solemnly proclaims the Passion of the Lord: clothed in vestments as for the Mass, with the mitre on his head and assisted by six deacons, from the pulpit he reads the account of the passion and death of Jesus. When the Lord's death is announced, the reading is interrupted and darkness falls, the candles are extinguished, the altars are "stripped" of any ornamentation and everyone pauses for a few moments in silence, while the great bell tolls sadly. From this moment, until the beginning of the Easter Vigil, the Archbishop - as a sign of mourning –will no longer carry the crosier, as he has no longer been wearing the episcopal ring since the beginning of the celebration. The bells of the Duomo will also be "silenced", until the joyful announcement of the resurrection on Easter Night.

The proclamation of the Passion by the Archbishop is followed by the adoration of the Cross. Four deacons carry, along the central nave of the Duomo, a large golden cross with, in the centre, a Relic of the true Cross of the Lord, which is raised three times, while singing the antiphon "Ecce lignum Crucis in quo salus mundi pependit" (Behold the wood of the Cross, whereon was hung the salvation of the world), and all kneel before it three times. The Adoration of the Cross is followed by the solemn Universal Prayer, in which the prayer of the Church, gathered at the foot of the Cross, extends to embrace the whole world.

Good Friday (like every other Friday of Ambrosian Lent) is also an "aliturgical" day: Mass is not celebrated and, unlike in the Roman Rite, the Eucharistic Communion is not handed out.

The evening celebration ends, in the Cathedral, with the memory of the Deposition of the Lord: the liturgy leads us to contemplate the scene of the burial of Jesus, to relive the effectiveness of salvation and to discover its spiritual value.

The traditional rite of the Cathedral Church - with the veiling of the Cross, performed by four deacons, at the end of the proclamation of the Gospel of the Deposition - recalls the mystery of the Lord's descent into hell and introduces us to the second day of the Easter Triduum (Holy Saturday): the day of burial, of silence, of the Bridegroom's liturgical absence and of the expectation of his resurrection.

A final peculiarity characterizes the Ambrosian tradition: from the time the death of Jesus is announced, no more blessings are given, just as any form of liturgical greeting is omitted, to signify the liturgical absence of the Lord.