Holy Saturday

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The feast of Holy Saturday falls on the day before Pascha. It is also called The Great Sabbath since it is said that on this day Christ "rested" in the tomb, in death. But it is also believed that it was on this day he performed in spirit the Harrowing of Hell and raised up to Paradise those held captive there. Therefore, at the main liturgical celebration, a vesperal Divine Liturgy of St. Basil the Great, the hangings, altar cloths, and vestments are changed from black to white prior to the epistle reading.

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Greek tradition

Morning Service—The Descent into Hades and Anticipation of the Resurrection—The Divine Liturgy of St. Basil the Great

The first service of Holy Saturday takes place in the morning and breaks the somber spell. Jesus' descent to Hades where He preached His message to the dead is celebrated. Those who believed in Him received eternal life and salvation. The heavy sorrow of Great Friday begins to lift when the priest, wearing bright vestments, chants, "Arise, O God, to the world," while sprinkling laurel leaves, bay leaves, and flower petals all over the church to symbolize the shattered gates and broken chains of hell. This is also to celebrate the triumph over death.

See also