11th Hour taken down from cross

Eleventh Hour : Taking down from the Cross

After this, Joseph of Arimathea, being a disciple of Jesus, but secretly, for fear of the Jews, asked Pilate that he might take away the body of Jesus; and Pilate gave him permission. So he came and took the body of Jesus.“When the holy Joseph and Nicodemus were taking down/burying the body of our Lord, doubts entered their minds concerning His Divinity.  Suddenly, a choir of angels appeared to them singing defiantly, “Holy God, Holy mighty, Holy immortal.”  and at the words “Holy Immortal One,” Christ opened His eyes in their face; then the two righteous men, realizing their error, joined in the singing, and then as if to confess their sin and to ask for mercy and forgiveness, they added to the angelic hymn the phrase, “O Thou Who was crucified for us have mercy on us”.  The Church later adopted this hymn, adding a verse concerning the Virgin birth of our Lord and another concerning His resurrection and ascension.” This prayer is called The Trisagion [KIDAN – Prayer of the Covenant], which we use it on daily bases in our Church whenever there is a service.

At the 11th Hour, all the objects and Crosses (in front of the sanctuary) will be taken away, and the clergy will carry the picture of the Crucifixion or the representation of Christ’s ‘body’ into the sanctuary, and pray: «Christ have mercy upon us», 400 times (a hundred times each toward the four cardinal points); and the people will respond: «Christ have mercy upon us» («Egzio maharane Krestos»; this prayer is therefore called egziota.

Then, at the place called Qine-Mahlet, another ritual unique to the tradition takes place: the cursing of Judas and his generation. Several Mergetas form a circle, with one person standing in the middle holding a stick (maqwamia) with a candle (twaf) at its tip, which is a symbol of the devil and Judas. At the end of the last verse of Psalm I, when «But the way of the ungodly will perish » is said, all the clergy strike the stick in the middle to extinguish the light of its twaf , and ‘destroy’ it, as through Christ’s death the Devil has lost his power and Judas is cursed and destroyed because of his betrayal.

Immediately after, the clergy with sistra and beating of sticks and drums used for the first time since Palm Sunday, and all sing: «Sing to the Lord, for He has triumphed gloriously» (Ex.15:21)

After that faithful will come to the priest who will give them (gentle) strokes (tibtaba) on their back, with  olive branches, to commemorate the Flagellation of Christ, and as an absolution. At the same time, as confession is due on that day, the faithful will rapidly confess their sins to the priest.

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