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The celebration of Good Friday in the Cathedral

The Passion and Deposition of the Lord

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14 April Apr 2022 1014 14 April 2022

If the evening celebration (Mass "in the Lord's Supper") of Holy Thursday commemorates the first act of the Lord's Passion, the evening celebration of Friday is its natural continuation and finds its summit 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 inserted in the prayer of Vespers and the proclamation of the Passion is preceded by two Readings from the First Testament (taken from the prophet Isaiah) and introduced by the singing of the ancient responsory Tenebrae. The peculiarity of this Responsory is the Latin text - as it is still performed by the Musical Chapel - in which, contrary to what is described in the Gospel account, in the Ambrosian version the blow of the spear anticipates the death of Christ on the cross.

In the Cathedral it is the Archbishop himself who solemnly proclaims the Passion of the Lord: he, dressed in vestments as for Mass, with a miter on his head and assisted by six deacons, reads from the chair the story of the passion and death of Jesus. At the announcement of the death of the Lord, the reading is interrupted and darkness falls, the candles are extinguished, the altars are "stripped" of any ornament and all pause for a few moments in silence, while the main bell rings sad tolls. From this moment, until the beginning of the Easter Vigil, the Archbishop - as a sign of mourning - no longer uses the crosier, as well as he had not already worn the episcopal ring from the beginning of the celebration. Even the bells of the Cathedral will remain "linked", until the joyful announcement of the resurrection on Easter night.

The Adoration of the Cross follows the proclamation of the Passion. Four deacons carry, along the central nave of the Cathedral, a large golden cross with a relic of the Holy Cross in the center, which is raised three times, while the antiphon "Ecce lignum Crucis in quo salus mundi pependit" is sung (Here is the wood of the Cross, on which the Savior of the world was hung), and three times all kneel before it. Adoration of the Cross is followed by the solemn Universal Prayer, in which the Church's prayer, gathered at the foot of the Cross, is extended to embrace the whole world.
Furthermore, Good Friday (like every other Friday of Ambrosian Lent) is an "aliturgic" day: Mass is not celebrated and, unlike the Roman Rite, Eucharistic Communion is not distributed either.

The evening celebration ends in the Cathedral with the memory of the Deposition of the Lord: the liturgy guides us to contemplate the scene of Jesus' burial, to relive its efficacy of salvation and to discover its spiritual value.
The proper 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 the burial, of silence, of the liturgical absence of the Bridegroom and of the expectation of his resurrection.

A final peculiarity characterizes the Ambrosian tradition: from the moment of the announcement of the death of Jesus, no blessing or recitation of any Trinitarian doxology is given (Glory to the Father ...), just as any form of liturgical greeting is omitted, precisely to signifying the liturgical absence of the Lord.