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date: 22 September 2019

Easter sepulchrelocked

  • V. Sekules

Extract

Temporary structure set up in church to simulate the place of Christ’s burial for a symbolic enactment of the Entombment and Resurrection. The Tomb of Christ and the later sacrament house, although also concerned with the bodily presence of Christ, belong to a separate tradition (see below). Special rites for Easter in which some kind of Easter sepulchre played a part are found in some 400 texts from medieval Europe. The earliest description is in the 10th-century English Regularis Concordia, according to which a cross wrapped in a linen shroud was placed in the sepulchre on Good Friday and guarded there until Easter Sunday by two or three brethren singing psalms continuously. The cross was removed from the sepulchre by the sacristan before Matins on Easter Sunday. During the service one of the brethren sat quietly by the sepulchre to represent the Angel of the Resurrection, while three others represented the Marys who found the sepulchre empty and announced the Resurrection. In this instance the sepulchre was described as a veil stretched in the form of a circle set beside the vacant part of the altar. This type of Easter sepulchre, a kind of tent, appears in the 12th-century wall paintings in the chancel at ...

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