Holy Saturday (the Angelic Night, the Vigil of Easter)

Holy Saturday or Great Saturday

April 8

After His crucifixion, Jesus was placed in a nearby tomb and His body remained there all Holy Saturday (Matthew 27:59-60; Mark 15:46; Luke 23:53-54; John 19:39-42). Churches that celebrate Holy Saturday traditionally do so by observing a day of gloomy reflection as they contemplate the world of darkness that would exist without the hope of Christ's resurrection.

Without the resurrection of Christ, we would indeed be in great trouble. If Christ had never been raised, “your faith is futile; you are still in your sins” (1 Corinthians 15:17). The disciples were scattered when Jesus was arrested (Mark 14:50), and they spent the first Holy Saturday in hiding for fear of being arrested too (John 20:19). The day between Christ's crucifixion and His resurrection would have been a time of grief and shock as the stunned disciples tried to understand the murder of Jesus, the betrayal of Judas, and the crushing of their hopes.

The only biblical reference to what happened on Holy Saturday is found in Matthew 27:62-66. After sunset on Friday - the day of preparation - the chief priests and Pharisees visited Pontius Pilate. This visit was on the Sabbath, as the Jews considered a day to be sunset. They asked Pilate for a guard for the tomb of Jesus. They remembered that Jesus said He would rise again in three days (John 2:19-21) and they wanted to do everything they could to prevent that. As we know, the Roman guards were insufficient to prevent the resurrection.

A Prayer for Holy Saturday

O God, Creator of heaven and earth: Grant that, as the crucified body of your dear Son was laid in the tomb and rested on this holy Sabbath, so we may await with him the coming of the third day, and rise with him to newness of life; who now lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever.