The Epitaphios | Burial of Christ Icon

A Reader's Guide to Orthodox Icons

Epitaphios, from the Stavronikita Monastery, Mt Athos (16th Century) Epitaphios, from the Stavronikita Monastery, Mt Athos (16th Century)

The Epitaphios (Gr. Επιτάφιος) is a large icon, usually embroidered, that depicts the burial of Christ. The name, epitaphios, literally means “winding-sheet”, and is used in services of Holy (Good) Friday and Holy Saturday to re-present the burial and funeral of Christ. An expanded version of this post, with a gallery of various epitaphios images, will be added here later. In the meantime, I add one of the most well-known icons (actually a fresco) of the epitaphios thrênos; i.e. the Lamentations by the Tomb. I also include some of the hymns from Holy Saturday, which understandably contain much hope mixed with the sorrow of Christ’s passion and death.

By being covered with the dust of the earth,
You renew the nature of mortals, O Creator;
The tomb and the winding-sheet reveal your deepest mystery, O Word;
The noble counsellor renders…

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