Rorate Caeli

A question for our readers: on keeping vigil before the "Sepulcher"

In your parish or oratory, was there a vigil before the Blessed Sacrament not only during the night of Maundy Thursday (before the Altar of Repose), but also through Good Friday and Black Saturday (before a "Sepulcher")?

Since the 1950's, it has become common to limit this adoration to the night of Maundy Tursday in observance of the rubrics in the more modern liturgical books. Nevertheless the older tradition continues to be observed in Poland and Germany (see this post in Te Igitur) and, I've been told, in Hungary. Perhaps it has survived elsewhere.

(The round-the-clock vigil before the Sepulcher from Good Friday to the morning of Easter Sunday was also practiced in pre-Reformation England, as detailed in the following post on the blog Supremacy and Survival: Holy Saturday and the Easter Sepulchre.)


  1. Coming from Germany we only had the adoration on thursday evening. In Poland in the tridentine Rite-Parish I was participating the mass, the time for adoration was also on Friday. This year I celebrated eastern in Jerusalem and couldn't find any adoration at all, not even on thursday evening...

  2. Anonymous5:37 PM

    "In your parish or oratory, was there a vigil before the Blessed Sacrament not only during the night of Maundy Thursday (before the Altar of Repose), but also through Good Friday and Black Saturday (before a 'Sepulcher')?"

    Are you kidding? As it is, my wonderful priest is being raked over the coals by the resident libs for wanting to put a Crucifix up behind the altar!


  3. It is still a tradition in my family, taught to me by my Italian parents to keep vigil at the sepulchre for one hour. The duration is in reference to Christ's words, "Could you not stay awake one hour with me."

    One keeps vigil in front of the open empty tabernacle waiting for Christ's return, morning his death.
    waiting for his return

  4. It is a pious custom in many Orthodox and Byzantine Catholic to have a watch before the tomb from Vespers or (anticipated) Matins on Holy Friday to the Vesperal Liturgy on Holy Saturday or even before the Midnight Office on Pascha.

    Others make pilgrimages from church to church to visit the tombs.

  5. Polish language churches in the Toronto area continue the vigil into Holy Staurday

  6. Anonymous4:37 AM

    What is placed in the "Sepulche"? The Holy Eucharist, or just an icon, such as a Crucifix?

  7. In Poland the 'Sepulcher' is constructed in the churches (the same way as the crib for Christmas) during the Holy Week. It is covered with a cloth till the Good Friday Liturgy that the people do not see it. At the end of the Good Friday liturgy the Holy Eucharist is carried to the Sepulcher in the monstrance covered with the white veil.
    Unfortunately the round-the-clock vigil is not practiced in all churches in Poland. But some more energetic priests encourage people to keep vigil in their churches overnight by organizing schedule, assigning each hour over Holy Triduum to the particular families, groups, fraternities or streets in the parish. In this way there is all the time someone praying in the church in front of the Blessed Sacrament.


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